A former US Marine Corps instructor has been accused of “savagely abusing” three Muslim recruits, and faces a court-martial on charges including cruelty and maltreatment.
Gunnery Sergeant Joseph Felix, a former US Marine Corps drill instructor, targeted three Muslim recruits, prosecutors have claimed at the opening of his court-martial on charges including cruelty and maltreatment.
Felix also burned one recruit after ordering him into a commercial clothes dryer and turning it on after interrogating him about his Islam, prosecutors told jurors.
Felix told another Muslim recruit, “Hey, ISIS, get in the dryer,” prosecutors said.
“You will learn the accused is drunk on power,” prosecutor Captain Corey Weilert told the eight-person jury hearing the case at the sprawling North Carolina Marine Corps base last week.
After a confrontation in March 2016 when Felix slapped his face, 20-year-old Raheel Siddiqui from Michigan, fell three stories to his death, investigators said.
Siddiqui’s death was declared suicide, but since then Marine Corps officials have said they uncovered widespread hazing of recruits and young drill instructors and identified up to 20 people possibly tied to misconduct.
A commanding officer at Parris Island who was fired amid allegations of misconduct after Siddiqui’s death also faces a court-martial.
Lieutenant Colonel Joshua Kissoon is charged with making false statements, failing to heed an order and other charges.
He will face court-martial at Marine Corps Base Quantico in Virginia, but no trial date has been set.
Mentions of Siddiqui’s death is being limited by Judge Lieutenant Colonel Michael Libretto to testimony addressing an obstruction charge facing Felix.
Prosecutors say Felix told recruits not to talk about the incident outside of the unit.
Felix also faces three counts of maltreatment towards Siddiqui and the two other Muslim recruits, as well as nine counts of violating an order, making a false statement and being drunk and disorderly.
Defence counsellor Navy Lieutenant Commander Clay Bridges told jurors that the testimony by Bourmeche and other recruits are boot camp stories that have been conflated, are contradictory and “blown out of proportion.”
The trial is scheduled to last about two weeks.