The Marine Corps drill instructor connected to a Muslim recruit’s suicide on Parris Island will face a court-martial, Training and Education Command announced Wednesday.
Just over a year after 20-year-old Muslim recruit Raheel Siddiqui jumped to his death from a stairwell on March 18, 2016, Gunnery Sgt. Joseph Felix is set to face numerous charges, ranging from cruelty and maltreatment to disorderly conduct and obstruction of justice, Marine Corps Times reports.
On the same day he jumped to his death, Siddiqui told his drill instructors he needed medical attention because of his swollen throat. A subsequent investigation found that he had also lost his voice and was beginning to cough up blood.
Rather than grant his request, Siddiqui was forced to run until he collapsed.
According to the charges, Felix is accused of slapping Siddiqui while he was on the ground.
Felix is also accused of forcing a Muslim recruit to train in the shower and then ordering him to sit in an industrial dryer. Another drill instructor has been charged in connection with this particular incident.
Democratic Rep. Debbie Dingell, who represents a district in Michigan where Siddiqui was from, said she intends to stay on top of the case until it’s clear how hazing was involved in his death.
“What happened to Private Siddiqui at Parris Island was more than a dereliction of duty – it was a tragedy that stole a son and a brother from his family and robbed a young man of his life and dream of serving the country he loved,” Dingell said in a statement. “We have a moral responsibility to hold those responsible accountable and pursue justice for the Siddiqui family, but the reality is, no matter what we do we can never bring him back.”
“Additionally, since the investigation has given no specific evidence of suicide, I am determined to work with the Marine Corps, the family and all stakeholders to re-examine the autopsy report and get a more fair and neutral finding on cause of death,” she added. “We will never know what happened that day, but it is very clear to me and others based on the facts revealed in the investigation that it was not Private Siddiqui’s intention to take his own life.”
Siddiqui’s family does not believe he committed suicide, despite the fact that he threatened to commit suicide just five days before he jumped.
Up to 18 more Marines could face charges over the Siddiqui affair.
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