An alleged power-hungry Marine Corps drill instructor acted like a bully who abused recruits, and targeted three Muslims whom he routinely referred to as “terrorists.”
In Wednesday’s closing arguments in the case Gunnery Sgt. Joseph Felix, military prosecutor Lt. Col. John Norman argued that “he was drunk on power and sometimes Fireball whiskey, and he used that power again and again,” NBC News reported.
“He abused his power to abuse his recruits. He punched them. He kicked them. He degraded their religion, and he put them in industrial appliances.”
After an investigation was launched to determine what drove one of Felix’s Muslim trainees at the Parris Island, South Carolina, boot camp to commit suicide in March 2016, Felix was charged with maltreatment, drunk and disorderly conduct, dereliction of duty and violation of a general order in connection with hazing accusations.
Investigators found unchecked abuse of recruits by junior drill instructors at the training depot, NBC News reported.
Six drill instructors, including Felix, were charged and the training battalion’s commanding officer fired. A court-martial for Lt. Col. Joshua Kissoon is scheduled for March. Eleven others faced lesser, administrative discipline, said Marine Corps spokesman Capt. Joshua Pena.
The investigation found that Felix punched, choked and kicked recruits. Eyewitnesses testified of seeing him slug recruits in the face and hit others with a rifle, terrorizing recruits sometimes while drunk, Lt. Col. John Norman said in his closing arguments, NBC News reported.
“Just because a lot of people said it, doesn’t mean it’s beyond a reasonable doubt,” Felix’s attorney, Navy Lt. Cmdr. Daniel Bridges said. “Not credible equals not guilty.”
An eight-man jury at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, starts deliberating Thursday. They will be determining, among other charges, if Felix forced recruits to choke each other, ordered them to drink chocolate milk until they vomited and loaded Muslim recruits into a commercial dryer, the New York Post reported.
Lance Cpl. Ameer Bourmeche, a former trainee, said the dryer was turned on as Felix ordered him to renounce his Islamic faith.
The recruit who committed suicide, Raheel Siddiqui, a Pakistani-American, jumped from the third floor of a Parris Island squad bay, according to military.com.
Felix is accused of calling Siddiqui a terrorist, slapping him and forcing him to run back and forth in the squad bay minutes shortly before his death, according to the New York Post.
Siddiqui’s family has filed a $100 million wrongful death lawsuit against the Marine Corps.
Felix is also accused of frequently calling Muslim recruits “terrorists,” another as “ISIS,” and forcing another Muslim to conduct a mock beheading while yelling, “Allahu Akbar!”
One drill instructor, Sgt. Michael Eldridge, reached a plea deal with prosecutors and testified against Felix.