A former US Marine sentenced for urinating on the corpses of Afghans believed to be Taliban fighters in 2011 has had his conviction overturned. An appeals court ruled the Marine Commandant, who was seeking harsh punishment for those involved, had interfered in the trial.
The Navy-Marine Corps Court of Criminal Appeals overturned the previous ruling and all charges against Joseph Chamblin were dropped. Wednesday’s ruling comes five years after the initial trial of the Staff Sergeant, Military.com reported. The infamous incident took place in July 2011 in Afghanistan’s Helmand province. Footage of it leaked to YouTube in January 2012. The video shows a group of Marines joking and laughing while urinating on three corpses, believed to be that of Taliban fighters. “Have a nice day, buddy,” one of the men can be heard ‘telling’ a corpse.
Joseph Chamblin, photographed at his home in Richlands, North Carolina in 2013. Chamblin was a scout sniper platoon commander until he was implicated in a video showing four Marines urinating on dead Taliban insurgents. (Mike Morones/Staff)
In December 2012, Staff Sergeant Chamblin pleaded guilty to charges of wrongful desecration, failure to properly supervise junior Marines, and posing for photographs with battlefield casualties. He was sentenced to 30 days confinement, had his pay docked, and was demoted to sergeant for participating in the incident. Staff Sergeant Edward Deptola and Sergeant Rob Richard were also convicted, while the other Marines involved received administrative punishment.
Chamblin did not express regret over the incident following his conviction, stating that he would do it again given the opportunity. The urinating incident, he argued, would show aspiring jihadists their inevitable fate.
Citing the time that has passed since the initial trial, the court ruled to drop all charges against Chamblin instead of sending his case for a retrial. It’s yet unclear whether Staff Sergeant Deptola and Sergeant Rob Richard, who were handed criminal sentences for their actions, would be affected by Wednesday’s decision. The US government has 30 days to challenge the appeals court’s ruling.