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Two more Marines charged in scandal over Afghan urination video

NBC News

The video is believed to have been shot in July 2011 in Helmand province in southern Afghanistan. Five other Marines have already pleaded guilty.

Two more Marines — including the first officer to be implicated — have been charged in connection with a video that became public last year showing Marines urinating on the dead bodies of insurgents in Afghanistan, the Marine Corps said Friday.

The video, which showed four Marines in full combat gear urinating on the bodies of three dead men, set off protests across Afghanistan after it was published on YouTube early last year. Five other Marines, two of them sergeants, have already pleaded guilty in plea arrangements that brought light sentences.


The two Marines named in the new charges include the highest-ranked Marine so far implicated in the scandal, Capt. James V. Clement, now stationed at Marine Corps Base Quantico in Quantico, Va.

He faces an Article 32 hearing — similar to civilian preliminary hearing — on a raft of serious charges, including dereliction of duty, failing to properly supervise junior Marines, failing to stop the misconduct of junior Marines, failing to report misconduct and making false statements to military investigators.

Sgt. Robert W. Richards, who is now stationed at Camp Lejeune, N.C., was charged with dereliction of duty, violation of a lawful general order and conduct prejudicial to the good order and discipline of the armed forces. Richards is alleged to have taken improper photographs that showed the mistreatment of human casualties. 

Lt. Gen. Richard Mills, former commanding general of the Marines' Combat Development Command in southwest Afghanistan, will decide on their fates after their Article 32 proceedings, the Marine Corps said.


The incident is believed to have occurred in July 2011 in Helmand province in southern Afghanistan, a significant center of Taliban activity and the scene of prolonged fighting between the Taliban and U.S.-led international forces.

The impact of the video rivaled that of the release of photographs showing alleged U.S. torture and human rights abuses against prisoners at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq in 2003 and 2004, U.S. officials said last month when some of the other Marines pleaded guilty.

"Events like Abu Ghraib and the torture that happened there at that prison certainly acted as a recruiting tool for al-Qaida," said Navy Capt. John Kirby, a spokesman for the Defense Department. "Certainly, we are concerned about any backlash that might occur."

Then-Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said, "That kind of behavior is deplorable, and I condemn it."

No date was set for Clement's and Richards' hearings.

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