CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. (AP) — A U.S. Marine was set to face court martial Wednesday for urinating on the bodies of dead Taliban fighters in Afghanistan and then posing for photos with the corpses.
Staff Sgt. Edward W. Deptola is accused of the desecration of remains and posing for unofficial photographs with human casualties. He also is accused of failing to properly supervise junior Marines and not reporting the misconduct.
Deptola and another Marine based at Camp LeJeune were charged last year after video surfaced showing four Marines in full combat gear urinating on the bodies of three dead Afghans in July 2011. In the video, one of the Marines looked down at the bodies and quipped, “Have a good day, buddy.”
Staff Sgt. Joseph W. Chamblin pleaded guilty to similar charges last month. Under a deal reached before his court-martial, he lost $500 in pay and was reduced in rank to sergeant. Three other Marines were given administrative punishments for their roles.
The urination video surfaced amid a string of embarrassing episodes for U.S. forces in Afghanistan. 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.
After the video garnered international attention on YouTube, senior military officials sternly condemned the behavior of the Marines involved.
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.