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2 Marines face criminal charges for allegedly urinating on Taliban corpses

NBC's Jim Miklaszewski on the ramifications of the video that allegedly shows Marines urinating on corpses.

Two Marines are facing criminal charges for allegedly urinating on the corpses of Taliban fighters last year in Afghanistan and posing for unofficial photos with casualties, Marine officials announced on Monday.

The criminal charges are the first levied on anyone over the incident, which was recorded on video and circulated on YouTube.

The video, which showed Marines in full combat gear urinating on the bodies of three dead men, triggered widespread anger in Afghanistan early this year, with Afghan President Hamid Karzai calling the Marines' actions "inhuman." Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said he feared that the video could set back efforts to begin reconciliation talks with the Taliban.

The charged Marines, Staff Sergeants Joseph W. Chamblin and Edward W. Deptola, who were referred to trial by court martial, also face charges for failing to properly supervise junior Marines and failing to stop and report misconduct of junior Marines. 

Related: Military punishes soldiers for Quran burning, Marines for urinating on Taliban corpses

The Marine Corps investigation showed that although the video was only circulated on the Internet in January, the incident actually took place on or around July 27, 2011, during a counter-insurgency operation in Afghanistan's Helmand province. 

The Marine Corps said on August 27 that three Marines pleaded guilty to charges over the video. But their punishment fell short of criminal prosecution.

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Chamblin and Deptola, on the other hand, also face a series charges for failing to supervise junior Marines.

This includes simple things like failing to require them to wear protective equipment to more serious breaches, like failing to report the "negligent discharge" of a grenade launcher. Deptola is also charged with failing to stop the unnecessary damaging of Afghan compounds, the Marines said.

The Marines said there were other pending cases in the video investigation. They declined to elaborate on the incident in which the negligent actions took place.

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After a lengthy investigation by the Naval Criminal Investigative Services, Lt. Gen. Richard Mills, commanding general of Marine Corps Combat Development Command in Quantico, Va., made the decision to refer the cases to court martial, the Marine Corps Times reported.

Both Marines are from the Third Battalion, Second Marine Regiment at Camp LeJeune, North Carolina.  No date has been set for their court martial.

NBC News Chief Pentagon Correspondent Jim Miklaszewski, Reuters and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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