Marine's punishment scaled back in urination case

This still image made from a video posted on YouTube purports to show U.S. Marines urinating on the bodies of dead Taliban militants in Afghanistan. The image has been obscured to disguise the men pictured as the authenticity of the video has not been confirmed. CBS

WASHINGTON A Marine general who decided to court-martial a Marine for urinating on the bodies of dead Taliban fighters and posing for pictures with them in Afghanistan will scale back the punishment announced Thursday by a military judge.

Staff Sgt. Joseph W. Chamblin's case stems from the disclosure in January of a video showing four Marines urinating on the bodies of three dead men in July 2011.

As CBS News national security correspondent David Martin reported then, the Marines in the video were members of a 1,000-man battalion that had completed a combat tour in Afghanistan and returned to Camp Lejuene, N.C., where they apparently started showing the video around as a war trophy.

A Marine spokesman, Col. Sean Gibson, said Lt. Gen. Richard Mills had agreed before the court-martial was held Wednesday that the maximum sentence he would approve against Chamblin is the forfeiture of $500 in pay for one month and reduction in rank to sergeant.

The judge, who was not aware of the pre-trial agreement, had initially announced a harsher sentence: 30 days confinement, 60 days restriction, forfeiture of $500 per month in pay for six months, a fine of $2,000 and a reduction in rank to lance corporal, which is two pay grades below sergeant.

Gibson said Mills will limit the punishments to those he set before the trial. Mills is the head of Marine Corps Combat Development Command.

The Marine Corps said Chamblin pleaded guilty before the military judge at Camp Lejeune. He admitted to wrongful desecration, failure to properly supervise junior Marines and posing for photos with battlefield casualties.

Chamblin is assigned to 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment at Camp Lejeune.

In September, the Marines announced that Chamblin and Staff Sgt. Edward W. Deptola would be court-martialed. Deptola's case is pending.

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