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US Marine Drill Instructor Gets 10 Years for Abusing Muslim Recruits

US Marine Drill Instructor Gets 10 Years for Abusing Muslim Recruits

Saturday, 11 November, 2017 - 07:00
In this Oct., 31, 2017 file photo, US Marine Gunnery Sgt. Joseph A. Felix, his wife, and his lawyers exit a courtroom after testimony at Camp Lejeune, N.C. (Rory Laverty /The Washington Post/via AP, File)

Joseph Felix, a US Marine Corps drill instructor, has been sentenced to 10 years in prison for tormenting more than a dozen Muslim recruits, one of whom died in 2016, US media reported Friday.

Gunnery Sergeant Felix, 34, was convicted a day earlier of maltreatment of the recruits during their basic training at the Marine boot camp at Parris Island, South Carolina.

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.

"This generation now, there's things that I think that we're much more focused on. In particular, in this trial, it's calling people names based on their religion and targeting people based on their religion," said Michael Hanzel, a private attorney specializing in military law. "I don't think anyone would say that was acceptable ever, but it probably was not prosecuted in the past the way it would be now."

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