Marine pleads guilty to corpse urinating

2013-01-17 11:56

Camp Lejeune - A Marine who pleaded guilty on Wednesday to urinating on the corpse of a Taliban fighter in Afghanistan will likely be demoted one rank under a plea agreement, although a military judge called for a much harsher sentence.

Staff Sergeant Edward W Deptola pleaded guilty to multiple charges at court-martial, including that of violating orders by desecrating remains and posing for photographs with the corpses; and dereliction of duty by failing to properly supervise junior Marines.

The judge, Lieutenant Colonel Nicole Hudspeth, said she would have sentenced him to six months confinement, a $5 000 fine, demotion to private and a bad-conduct discharge. But she is bound by terms of the plea agreement the sergeant reached with military prosecutors. A general will review the sentence and could choose to lower it.

Deptola and another Marine based at Camp LeJeune were charged last year after a video surfaced showing four Marines in full combat gear urinating on the bodies of three Afghans in July 2011.

In the video, one of the Marines looked down at the bodies and quipped, "Have a good day, buddy."


Deptola was sergeant for a scout sniper platoon. Though he had been previously deployed overseas, he was on his only combat deployment at the time. The Southold, New York, native is married with two children, but military officials declined to give his age.

The sergeant admitted to the judge that he urinated on one of the three corpses and posed in the "trophy photographs."

He said he failed to supervise the Marines under him when the desecration began, even though he had been briefed that such behaviour violated a Marine Corps general order.

"I was in a position to stop it and I did not. ... I should have spoken up on the spot," he said.

When asked by the judge why he did it, Deptola replied, "I have no excuse, no reason, ma'am. ... It was not the correct way to handle a human casualty".

The sergeant said that on the day the urination video was shot, the platoon had seen heavy action and had 11 confirmed kills, including the three Taliban men whose bodies were shown in the recording.

Deptola said another sergeant in the platoon had been killed earlier that day by an IED, and the Marines believed the heavily armed Taliban fighters they killed could have been responsible for it.

Deptola's defence attorney, Major Tracey Holtshirley, called the case a "lynching" by the news media and general public for an isolated mistake by a well-regarded Marine. He argued Deptola had already been punished enough by the attention and being removed from his platoon. He said he should be demoted two ranks to corporal.

Lesser sentences

Other Marines involved have received lesser sentences. Staff Sergeant Joseph W Chamblin pleaded guilty to similar charges last month. Under a deal reached before his court-martial, he lost $500 in pay and was reduced in rank to sergeant. Three other Marines were given administrative punishments for their roles.

The urination video surfaced on YouTube around the same time as other incidents that infuriated many Afghans.

American troops were caught up in controversies over burning Muslim holy books, posing for photos with insurgents' bloodied remains and an alleged massacre of 16 Afghan villagers by a soldier.

The Marine Corps said the urination took place during a counterinsurgency operation in the Musa Qala district of Helmand province, located in the south of the country.

The United States now has 66 000 troops in Afghanistan. The US and its Nato allies agreed in November 2010 that they would withdraw all their combat troops by the end of 2014, but they haven't decided on the scope of future missions in the country and the size of any residual force remaining after that.


  • simphiwe.charlie.5 - 2013-01-17 12:05

    Disgusting excuses for human beings, and demoted one rank for this abomination is almost condoning it.

      avremel.niselow - 2013-01-17 12:28

      The Taliban do not deserve any respect. These are the people who cut off women's noses and ears and kill advocates of female education.

      simphiwe.charlie.5 - 2013-01-17 12:37

      @Avremel, I know you won't believe it but you are a perfect planned outcome of mainstream media propoganda. You now believe exactly what they want you to believe and you now hate just as much as they want you to hate. They can now continue the slaughter and you will condone it.

      avremel.niselow - 2013-01-17 12:51

      You need to stop believing conspiracy theories and see the pure evil that is the Taliban! These are people with absolutely no respect for women, as seen in the Malala shooting or for anyone who is not one of them.

  • jobe.mkhatywa - 2013-01-17 13:49


  • mosis.hanz - 2013-01-17 19:10

    avremel.niselow - the same can be said for the brutality displayed in the Apartheid regime in South Africa; those whom supported it were terrible people with an ideology far worse than the Taliban, many innocent people (of Colour) suffered and died as a result of that oppression. Does this mean we can piss on the graves and bodies of those oppressors that have passed away? Does this also mean we can single out the remaining living ones; kill them and their children and then piss on their bodies? No one disagrees that the policies of the Taliban are wrong, but to have such ruthless disregard for life by pissing on the corpse of person is simply wrong and two wrongs don’t make it right…

      avremel.niselow - 2013-01-17 21:02

      I am not praising the action, I am merely pointing out that he was not worthy of respect.

  • mosis.hanz - 2013-01-17 22:57

    avremel.niselow – did you know the deceased to claim he was not worthy of respect? What was his name? How many kids does he have? Sure he fought for a cause and probably followed orders like any other soldier and died because of it; does that give you the right to be judge and jury over the actions of these people you don’t know to pronounce them not worthy of respect or life? Basically you’re saying we should piss on our enemy’s because they deserve it; well then I guess the black; Indian and Coloured South African’s should take a page out of your book and piss on you and the rest of your racist cohorts…

      avremel.niselow - 2013-01-17 23:13

      Now I'm racist? He fought for an evil cause, get over it.

      avremel.niselow - 2013-01-17 23:14

      How much respect did the Taliban show for Malala when they shot her for advocating female education?

      avremel.niselow - 2013-01-17 23:15

      Which of my comments were racist?

  • raymond.mcnelly - 2013-01-17 23:51

    Next time, just dump the trash in the sea.

      mosis.hanz - 2013-01-18 19:36

      Starting with whom would you dump into the sea like trash? Is human life so cheap to call it trash no matter the colour or creed? I guess its ok when innocent white folks are robbed, raped and killed in Africa simply because of the sins of their forefathers; what do you think? Remember this is the attitude that fuels the hate and violence with in the assailants minds when they come breaking in to claim your possessions and life…

  • mosis.hanz - 2013-01-18 19:19

    avremel.niselow – it’s not nice when you’re accused of something is it. The Taliban as a whole is wrong, nobody disagrees with that; however, one nameless man does not make up the entire regime; therefore urinating on his corpse is immoral and wrong. Imagine if someone goes to one of your lost dead loved ones perhaps your granddad or so and then pisses on his corpse because he lived in the apartheid era; how would you react? Remember this man may have had no choice; either fight for the Taliban cause or die; whichever way he still died; the difference was when…

  • mosis.hanz - 2013-01-18 20:02

    The point is life is precious for every living thing good or bad, all wants to survive. If we cannot respect dead things we will not respect living things; the result; a world filled with violence, mayhem, pollution, death and the list goes on. Look around you the earth has been ravaged and is limping on the wounds we cause each day because we justify in our minds that all is ok, even if it’s wrong. Do you fight fire by adding more flammable fuel to it? Of course not! The US Marine was wrong to do what he did even though it was to a Taliban soldier.

      avremel.niselow - 2013-01-20 09:43

      You need to tell that to the Taliban.

      avremel.niselow - 2013-01-20 09:47

      What I find interesting is people who claim to oppose the Taliban yet do not comment on stories about their crimes, only criticizing actions taken against them.

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