US Marine gets 10 years for abusing Muslim recruits

In this Oct., 31, 2017 photo, US Marine Gunnery Sgt. Joseph A. Felix, his wife, and his lawyers exit a courtroom after testimony at Camp Lejeune, N.C. A Marine Corps jury on Nov. 10, is deciding whether Felix should be sentenced to military prison time for choking, punching and otherwise tormenting recruits, especially Muslims, one of whom eventually hurled himself to his death down a stairwell. (AP)
Updated 12 November 2017
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US Marine gets 10 years for abusing Muslim recruits

WASHINGTON: A US Marine Corps drill instructor was sentenced Friday to 10 years in prison for abusing more than a dozen Muslim recruits, one of whom died in 2016, US media reported.
Gunnery Sergeant Joseph Felix was convicted a day earlier of maltreatment of the recruits during their basic training at the Parris Island, South Carolina base.
A jury of eight fellow servicemen and women considered Felix, an Iraq war veteran, the most to blame of six instructors who ordered and participated in extreme hazing of the recruits, taunting them as terrorists.
Two of them were forced into industrial-sized clothes dryers and in one case the machine was turned on when they did not renounce their faith.
One of the recruits, Raheel Siddiqui died after a plunge over a third-story railing in March 2016 after enduring days of hazing worse than the normal high-pressure treatment given recruits.
The Marines called his death a suicide. In October, Siddiqui’s family sued the Marines for $100 million, saying he was driven by an unnamed superior through a door and onto a balcony where he fell to the ground below.
The sentence decided Friday, which also includes a dishonorable discharge, was harsher than the seven years in prison that prosecutors had recommended.
The case will automatically go to appeal per military regulations for judgments that involve lengthy prison sentences and dishonorable discharges.


Four parties agree to Western Sahara talks

Updated 16 October 2018
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Four parties agree to Western Sahara talks

  • The United Nations has repeatedly failed to broker a settlement over the north African territory
  • Seeking to re-launch the political process, UN envoy Horst Koehler has invited the concerned parties to Geneva

NEW YORK: Morocco, Algeria, Mauritania and the Polisario Front have accepted a UN invitation to hold talks in December on ending the decades-old conflict in Western Sahara, the UN spokesman said Tuesday.
The United Nations has repeatedly failed to broker a settlement over the north African territory, where Morocco and the Algerian-backed Polisario fought for control from 1975 to 1991.
Seeking to re-launch the political process, UN envoy Horst Koehler has invited the four parties to Geneva on December 5-6 for a first round of meetings that could pave the way to formal negotiations.
Koehler, a former German president and ex-director of the International Monetary Fund, last month sent letters of invitation to the talks and set an October 20 deadline to respond.
UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric told reporters that Morocco, the Polisario, Algeria and Mauritania “have confirmed that they will be attending the talks” in Geneva.

The Berm, an artificial sand barrier, divides the Western Sahara.

The preliminary talks however may quickly hit a wall as Morocco maintains that negotiations on a settlement should focus on its proposal for autonomy for Western Sahara.
The Polisario insists that the status of the territory should be decided in a referendum on independence.
Algeria also maintains that a solution to the conflict must uphold the right of the people of Western Sahara to self-determination.
The last round of UN-sponsored informal talks was held in 2012.
The United Nations brokered a cease-fire deal between Morocco and the Polisario in 1990 that provided for a referendum, but the vote never materialized.
A small peacekeeping mission of some 700 personnel is monitoring the cease-fire line but the Security Council has put fresh pressure on the sides to return to the negotiating table.
A settlement in Western Sahara would allow the UN mission there, known as MINURSO, to end its mission at a time when the United States is seeking to reduce the cost of peace operations.
In his invitation to the parties, seen by AFP, Koehler asked the sides to submit proposals for talks and has described the Geneva meeting as a round-table discussion.
The planned talks will be discussed at the Security Council later this month as it weighs a mandate renewal for MINURSO.