Attorney hopes rescheduled hearing means more charges in Marine recruit death

Drill instructors of Lima Company, 3rd Recruit Training Battalion, inspect recruits on May 7, 2016 at Parris Island, South Carolina.


By WADE LIVINGSTON | The Island Packet (Hilton Head Island, S.C.) | Published: March 15, 2017

HILTON HEAD, S.C. (Tribune News Service) — The Marine Corps has rescheduled the hearing for an unnamed former drill instructor allegedly linked to the death of a Muslim-American recruit, and the recruit’s family attorney hopes the delay means more charges will be considered.

Chief amongst those are Uniform Code of Military Justice violations pertaining to assault, manslaughter and murder.

The hearing was originally scheduled for March 16. The new hearing will be March 30.

Shiraz Khan, attorney for the family of Raheel Siddiqui, who died after falling nearly 40 feet at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island last March, said he also hoped to see more Marines charged for their alleged involvement in the incident.

“(We) are hopeful that the upcoming-rescheduled hearing will effectively align with the material sections of the USMC Command Investigation, and definitively address all applicable sections of the UCMJ and all individuals on multiple levels of command,” Khan wrote in a statement Tuesday night to The Island Packet and Beaufort Gazette.

The Corps says the hearing date was pushed back two weeks because of a scheduling conflict with a member of the defense counsel, according to Training and Education Command Spokesperson Capt. Joshua Pena.

The unnamed gunnery sergeant will appear at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, according to the Corps. His preliminary hearing — called an Article 32 — could send the case before the highest level military court, a general court-martial. He is presently charged with: cruelty and maltreatment; drunk and disorderly and obstruction of justice; failure to obey an order; and making false statements.

In the wake of Siddiqui’s death, a Marine Corps investigation found a drill instructor to have “forcefully slapped” Siddiqui in the face “between one and three times” after the recruit fell to the floor, shortly after he was forced to run a series of “get-backs” — sprints across the length of his barracks. Siddiqui was reportedly sick at the time and trying to request permission to get medical treatment. Moments later, Siddiqui is reported to have to stood up, run out the back of the barracks and jumped over the third-story railing to his death.

That drill instructor is also reported to have called Siddiqui a “terrorist” during his 11 days on the island — he arrived at the depot March 7, 2016, and died March 18, 2016.

The Corps has ruled his death a suicide. Siddiqui’s family disputes that claim.

The Corps notified members of the press of the rescheduled hearing early Tuesday afternoon. As of 10:20 a.m. today, Khan said that his office still had not received official notification of the change.

Upon learning Friday of the originally scheduled hearing, Khan sent an email to the Corps on Monday with several questions.

“How many individuals are being charged in the death of Raheel Siddiqui?

“The final USMC Command Investigation listed violations by many individuals on multiple levels of command. As such, when can we expect criminal charges against those individuals?

“Why do the charges not address all individuals at all levels of command, and all applicable sections of the UCMJ, including but not limited to, Articles 118 (Murder), Article 119 (Manslaughter) and Article 128 (Assault)?"

“When will they be able to provide us with the remaining enclosures” — Khan said he only has about 20 of the more-than-200 supplemental investigation documents — “to the Command Investigation, including any and all witness statements?”

Khan said he has not received a response.

“After a nearly year-long investigation into the death of Raheel Siddiqui, it is imperative that the charges reflect the full extent of the documented crimes, atrocities and UCMJ violations committed against Raheel at Parris Island,” Khan said.

“The Siddiqui family and friends deserve to know what really happened to him, and our office is fully prepared and willing to assist in any way whatsoever.”

©2017 The Island Packet (Hilton Head, S.C.)
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