An incident that happened in 2011 is back in the news after a military court on Wednesday overturned the conviction of a former Marine sniper who urinated on dead Taliban fighters in Afghanistan. Evidence has emerged showing that a top general meddled in the case to ensure a harsh punishment, reports said.
After he was seen in the video urinating on enemy corpses, Staff Sgt. Joseph Chamblin was convicted and sentenced to 30 days’ confinement, had his pay docked and was demoted, according to a report in The Washington Post.
Now, a new ruling shows that since-retired Gen. James F. Amos and some of his senior staff apparently tried to “severely and systematically” influence the case to make certain that the Marines who were involved in the controversy would face harsher punishment.
Amos allegedly told then-Lt. Gen. Thomas Waldhauser that the Marines had to be “crushed” and discharged from the Corps over their behavior.
Waldhauser, who was investigating the case, reportedly said Amos tried to pressure him into issuing the Marines a general court-martial – the highest form of criminal trial – and threatened to make someone else the authority in the cases after Waldhauser refused to do so.
“I responded, ‘No, I’m not going to do that,’ stating that I did not believe any of the cases warranted general court-martial,” Waldhauser said in a statement, according to the Post.
Waldhauser was replaced a few days later with another military official.
Navy Cmdr. Marcus N. Fulton, who wrote the recent ruling, said overturning the conviction is a “drastic remedy” but was needed to “foster public confidence in the … fairness of our system of justice.”
“The highest-ranking officer in the Marine Corps told (the officer, supervising the case) that the appellant and his co-accused should be ‘crushed,’” the court wrote in its ruling. “This is an unusually flagrant example of UCI (unlawful command influence). We find that UCI this direct, and occurring at this level, is highly corrosive to public trust in this proceeding.”
At the time, Chamblin said he does not regret his actions, adding that he would do it again if he had the chance. “[If] anything, it was more of a psychological effect on the enemy because if an infidel touches the body, they’re not going to Mecca or paradise,” he told reporters, according to the New York Post. “So now, these insurgents see what happens when you mess with us.”
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