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.


Fears mount in Pakistan over military’s election powers

Updated 23 July 2018
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Fears mount in Pakistan over military’s election powers

  • Analysts warn powers granted for military overseeing of election polls could erode trust in the tense contest
  • The 'magisterial powers' effectively make them judge and jury to punish individuals for illegal acts

ISLAMABAD: Fears have mounted over wide-ranging powers granted to military units overseeing Pakistan’s polling stations when the country votes Wednesday, with opposition parties and analysts warning the move could erode trust in the tense contest.
The Pakistan military will station over 370,000 troops nationwide to ensure the vote goes smoothly, the largest such deployment in the country’s history on an election day.
The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) later said military officers would also be given magisterial powers, effectively making them judge and jury to punish individuals for illegal acts committed inside polling stations.
“I don’t know why they have given these powers, because that will unnecessarily create doubts in the minds of people,” retired general and security analyst Talat Masood told AFP.
“I don’t think these powers have ever been granted.”
Election observers also questioned the move, and said there was rising anxiety over the large military presence at the polls.
“A lot of our interlocutors, and I would dare to say most of them, they raise serious concerns regarding the role of the military,” said Dimitra Ioannou, deputy chief observer of the European Union Election Observation Mission.
Last week, Sherry Rehman — opposition leader in the Senate, the parliament’s upper house — said the move could lead to potential conflicts and confusion. Raza Rabbani, another high-profile senator, demanded a clarification from the ECP.
The ECP said Sunday the presence of troops at polling stations is meant to ensure a “free and fair election.”
The military — which has ruled the country for roughly half its 70 year history — remains Pakistan’s most powerful institution and has a long history of meddling in politics and judicial affairs — a charge it denies.
“It would be difficult to call the elections free and fair,” Ibn Abdur Rehman of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan told AFP Monday, following a press conference on media censorship during the campaign season.
The controversy comes as increasing militant attacks on campaign events in the last month have raised fears that insurgents may target voters.
Three candidates have been killed in attacks at political events this month, including a member of cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party in a suicide attack on Sunday.
And on Monday, authorities announced an increased death toll — 153 — for an earlier attack on a rally in the town of Mastung in southwestern Balochistan province, making it the second-deadliest terror attack in Pakistan’s history.
The increasingly bitter contest is expected to be a tight race between jailed former prime minister Nawaz Sharif’s incumbent Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz party and Khan’s PTI.