Marines charged in 'desecration incident' of Taliban fighters

Staff Sgts. Joseph Chamblin and Edward Deptola were referred to trial after Marine Corps leaders found their actions were in violation of the U.S. Uniform Code of Military Justice, according to a service statement issued Monday. 

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The two enlisted Marines were also charged with dereliction of duty, failure to supervise and "stop and report misconduct" of junior Marines, and "indiscriminate firing" of weapons, according to the statement. 

Lt. Gen. Richard Mills, head of Marine Corps Combat Development Command, handed down his recommendation for court martial on Monday. 

Chamblin and Deptola, who are assigned to Third Battalion, Second Marine Regiment, were stationed in southern Afghanistan at the time of the incident, according to the statement. 

After both Marines participated in a counterinsurgency operation in Helmand province late last July, they were filmed by fellow Marines desecrating the bodies of the Taliban gunmen killed in the mission. 

Outside of Chamblin and Deptola, "there are other pending cases related to this incident," according to the statement. However, command officials declined to go into detail on those other cases or whether further court martials are being considered. 

"In order to preserve the integrity of the investigations and to ensure fair and impartial legal proceedings in the future, we will not discuss evidence or specific findings of the [ongoing]  investigations," according to the statement. 

The desecration incident in Helmand province was one of many high-profile events earlier this year that enraged Afghan leaders and prompted called for an accelerated U.S. withdrawal from the country.

All U.S. forces are scheduled to leave Afghanistan by 2014. 

Prior to the desecration case, one U.S. sailor and six American soldiers were pulled from Kandahar Air Base after they inadvertently burned a number of Qurans, which touched off a week-long wave of violent protests throughout the country. 

The Defense Department handed down official reprimands, including loss of pay and rank, to the soldiers, sailors and Marines involved in both incidents. 

While charges have been brought against the Marines who defaced the Taliban dead, no criminal charges have been brought against U.S. service members in the Quran burnings.