More Marines charged over corpse urination video

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By MICHAEL BIESECKER, Associated Press

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Two more Marines face criminal charges over a 2011 YouTube video showing members of a scout sniper platoon urinating on the corpses of Taliban fighters in Afghanistan.

The U.S. Marine Corps announced Friday that Sgt. Robert W. Richards faces charges including dereliction of duty and violating orders. Military prosecutors say he filmed himself and others urinating on the corpses.

Capt. James V. Clement faces charges that include conduct unbecoming an officer and gentleman for failing to properly supervise junior Marines and making false statements to investigators. Clement was the executive officer of the Marine battalion in Afghanistan.

Hearings for Richards and Clement will be conducted by Lt. General Richard Mills, head of the Marine Corps Combat Development Command, to determine if there was evidence to proceed to courts-martial. No date has been set for the hearings, which will be held at Camp Lejeune, N.C.

The video, which received international condemnation, shows four Marines in full combat gear urinating on the bodies of three Afghans in July 2011. One of the Marines in the video looked down at the bodies and quipped, "Have a good day, buddy."

John M. Dowd, a civilian defense lawyer who said he and a military attorney are representing Clement, said their client is a decorated combat veteran who had no knowledge of the urination incident until months later, when the video was posted on the Internet.

"Capt. Clement is not guilty of any offense and deserves the everlasting gratitude of the American people for his outstanding service in the Marine Corps," said Dowd, a former Marine officer who practices law in Washington, D.C.

Two other Marines have already faced courts-martial in the case.

Staff Sgt. Edward W. Deptola pleaded guilty to multiple charges last month, admitting to a judge that he urinated on one of the three corpses and posed in the "trophy photographs." Deptola said another sergeant in the platoon had been killed earlier that day by an IED, and the Marines believed the heavily armed Taliban fighters they killed could have been responsible for it.

Under the terms of his pre-trial plea agreement, Deptola is set to be demoted one rank.

Staff Sgt. Joseph W. Chamblin, who pleaded guilty in December, was reduced in rank to sergeant and fined $500.

The urination video surfaced on YouTube around the same time as other incidents that infuriated many Afghans. American troops were caught up in controversies over burning Muslim holy books, posing for photos with insurgents' bloodied remains and an alleged massacre of 16 Afghan villagers by a soldier.

The Marine Corps said the urination took place during a counterinsurgency operation in the Musa Qala district of Helmand province, located in the south of the country.

The United States now has 66,000 troops in Afghanistan. The U.S. and its NATO allies agreed in November 2010 that they would withdraw all their combat troops by the end of 2014, but they haven't decided on the scope of future missions in the country and the size of any residual force remaining after that.

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