Court-martial recommended for Marine who urinated on Taliban corpse

Military defense counsel Capt. Robert Boudreau, Raechel Richards, Sgt. Robert Richards and defense lawyer Guy Womack leave the courtroom at Camp Lejeune, N.C., on March 19, 2013.


By JENNIFER HLAD | STARS AND STRIPES Published: March 27, 2013

WASHINGTON — The investigating officer from the recent Article 32 hearing for a Marine accused of urinating on the corpse of a dead Taliban fighter has recommended the sergeant be tried by special court-martial.

However, Lt. Gen. Richard Mills, commanding general of Marine Corps Combat Development Command, must still determine whether to refer the case to court-martial, suggest nonjudicial punishment or dismiss the case altogether.

Sgt. Robert Richards, 27, originally faced two charges of dereliction of duty, three of violating a general order and 10 of conduct prejudicial to good order and discipline. Guy Womack, Richards’ civilian attorney, said investigating officer Lt. Col. Christopher Greer recommended that some of the charges be dismissed, but Womack could not comment on which charges.

For the other charges, Womack said he “wished (Greer) had recommended at a nonjudicial punishment level,” but added that the report is “very detailed” and Greer cited good reasons for his recommendations.

“We’ll just wait and hear what the general says,” Womack said.

Three Marines were given nonjudicial punishments for their role in the July 2011 incident, and two Marines — Staff Sgt. Joseph W. Chamblin and Staff Sgt. Edward W. Deptola — have pleaded guilty to related charges at their own courts martial.

An additional Marine, Capt. James V. Clement, is expected to face an Article 32 hearing on similar charges next month.

The urination incident came to light after a video featuring Richards, Chamblin, Deptola and another Marine was posted on YouTube in January 2012. The video was not shown during Richards’ Article 32 hearing, which instead focused mainly on the rules of engagement and whether the Marines obtained and kept positive identification of their targets during the July 2011 operation and another operation in August 2011.

In an opening statement and again after the hearing concluded, Womack said urinating on the bodies was in poor taste, but was not desecration.

Twitter: @jhlad

Military defense counsel Capt. Robert Boudreau and Sgt. Robert Richards leave the courtroom at Camp Lejeune, N.C., on Tuesday. An Article 32 hearing was held to determine whether Sgt. Richards should face court martial for his role in Marines urinating on Taliban insurgents, and for accusations of failing to properly supervise fellow Marines and using weapons indiscriminately.

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