The U.S. Army says eight American soldiers have been charged in connection with the death of a fellow soldier in southern Afghanistan.
Private Danny Chen, 19, was found dead in a guard tower with an apparent “self-inflicted” gunshot wound in early October. Following prompting by Chen’s family, an army investigation was launched and news surfaced that Chen, from New York City’s Chinatown, had been the victim of physical and mental abuse from his fellow soldiers.
The NY Times reports:
“The accused soldiers were all members of the Third Battalion, 21st Infantry Regiment, First Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division. Five of them, Staff Sgt. Andrew J. Van Bockel, Sgt. Adam M. Holcomb, Sgt. Jeffrey T. Hurst, Specialist Thomas P. Curtis and Specialist Ryan J. Offutt, were charged with involuntary manslaughter, negligent homicide and assault consummated by battery, among other crimes, the statement said. Lt. Daniel J. Schwartz, the only officer among the eight defendants, was charged with dereliction of duty… Sgt. Travis F. Carden was charged with assault and maltreatment, and Staff Sgt. Blaine G. Dugas was charged with dereliction of duty and making a false statement.”
After learning of the charges, Chen’s family said in a news conference they were encouraged by results of the investigation.
“We realize that Danny will never return, but it gives us some hope,” said Yen Tao Chen, Danny’s father, speaking through a translator.
While the U.S. Army, which unsealed the charges today, declined to give more details on Private Danny Chen’s death or to clarify whether they believe it was indeed a suicide, they did reveal that they plan to meet with Pentagon officials January 4.
In the meantime, the soldiers in question have been transferred and relieved of their duties.
via NY Times