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Preliminary hearing waived in death of Muslim recruit

By TODD SPANGLER | Detroit Free Press | Published: March 28, 2017

WASHINGTON (Tribune News Service) — The Marine Corps says a gunnery sergeant accused of misconduct related to the death of a Muslim recruit has waived his preliminary hearing.

The hearing had been scheduled for Thursday. Because the gunnery sergeant — who was Raheel Siddiqui's drill instructor at the Marines' iconic Parris Island base in South Carolina when be died in a fall last year — waived his right to a hearing, his name was not released.

With the hearing waived, it will fall to the commanding general of Training and Education Command in Quantico, Va., to determine if charges will go forward. It's not clear when that decision will be made.

A military attorney representing the gunnery sergeant did not immediately return a call and email for comment to the Free Press about the decision to waive what's known as an Article 32 hearing.

Siddiqui, a 20-year-old former high school valedictorian, died last March 18 in a three-story fall after being slapped at least once by his drill instructor. Investigations into his death and other incidents at the base found instances of hazing, physical abuse and verbal abuse, including the drill instructor calling Siddiqui a "terrorist."

A local coroner called Siddiqui's death a suicide but the Marines found that the drill instructor's treatment of him was directly linked to his death. Siddiqui's family has rejected the finding of suicide.

The family has also questioned why the drill instructor was not facing more serious charges. When the Marines scheduled the Article 32 hearing to consider charges, it said the gunnery sergeant faced possible charges including failure to obey a lawful general order; cruelty and maltreatment; making a false official statement; drunk and disorderly conduct, and obstruction of justice. Missing from those charges, however, was a charge of assault, which the earlier investigation had recommended.

Investigations concluded the gunnery sergeant should not have even been attached to Siddiqui's training platoon at the time of his death since he was already under investigation for a report of calling another Muslim recruit a "terrorist" and ordering him into an industrial dryer, turning it on and burning him.

tspangler@freepress.com

©2017 the Detroit Free Press
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Raheel Siddiqui, 20, died at the Marine Corps recruit depot at Parris Island, S.C., while in initial training.
COURTESY OF THE SIDDIQUI FAMILY

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