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Adam Gabbatt, Monday 24th September 2012 21:13
Two US marines are facing criminal charges for urinating on the bodies of dead Taliban fighters in Afghanistan, after their actions were caught on a video that circulated widely on the internet, the US military said on Monday.
Staff sergeants Joseph W Chamblin and Edward W Deptola will face courts martial, the first criminal charges faced by anyone over the incident. The video prompted widespread anger in Afghanistan earlier this year; the Afghan President Hamid Karzai called the marines' actions "inhuman".
Chamblin and Deptola, were also charged with "posing for unofficial photographs with human casualties", and will face charges over failing to report or stop misconduct by junior marines, the military said. Three marines have already been disciplined over the urination incident.
Although the video was circulated on the web in January 2012, the incident actually took place on or around July 27, 2011, during a counter-insurgency operation in Afghanistan's Helmand province, an internal investigation showed.
The video showed four men in army combat gear urinating on the bodies of three men lying on the ground. The voice of a fifth man can be heard from behind the camera.
The military said on 27 August that three marines had pleaded guilty to charges over the video, but their punishment fell short of criminal prosecution and the men did not face courts martial.
Two of the three pleaded guilty to wrongfully posing for an unofficial photograph with human casualties and admitted urinating on the body of a dead Taliban fighter. The third pleaded guilty to failing to report the mistreatment of human casualties by other marines, and admitted making a false statement to an investigative officer about his knowledge of the video, according to the Military Times.
The three men face punishments within the military, such as a reduction in rank or extra duties, meaning their names would not have to be published in public.
Chamblin and Deptola, however, also face a series of 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.