Marine Corps. wouldn't disclose punishment for servicemen who urinated on dead Afghans

A still image taken January 11, 2012 from an undated YouTube video shows what is believed to be U.S. Marines urinating on the bodies of dead Taliban soldiers in Afghanistan (Reuters / Handout)
Three US Marines are being punished by the Marine Corps for urinating on dead Taliban fighters in a video that went viral last January.

After an eight-month investigation, the Marine Corps decided on non-judicial disciplinary actions against the Marines, without mentioning a specific punishment. All three Marines in question pleaded guilty for “violations of the Uniform Code of Military Justice for their role in the desecration and filming of deceased Taliban that became public in January 2012.”

The video that led to the investigation shows US Marines in Afghanistan urinating on dead Taliban fighters, including a caption indicating that they were members of the Scout Sniper Team 4, which served on the front lines.

While urinating on the bodies of three bearded Afghan men, the Marines were laughing and joking. “Have a great day, buddy,” said one of the Americans while urinating. The actions depicted in the video took place during a counter-insurgency operation in the Helmand Province in July 2011.

The desecration of corpses is prohibited under military law.

“We hold Marines to a high standard of ethical behavior,” the Corps said in a statement. “The Marine Corps takes misconduct by Marines very seriously and is committed to holding accountable those who are responsible.”

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who said she was totally dismayed after seeing the video, promised the Marines would be punished.

One of the Marines pleaded guilty to posing with the dead bodies for a photo, as well as urinating on one of them. Another pleaded guilty to “wrongly video-recording” the crime, as well as posing in photographs.  A third officer with knowledge of the incident admitted he was in the wrong for failing to report it.

While the Corps did not publicly state the specific punishments facing the three Marines, they could be anything from a reduction in rank, restriction to base, extra duties, forfeiture of pay, to a reprimand.

The three Marines will also receive a permanent mark on their records that will prevent any future promotions or re-enlistments.