A trial has begun for Gunnery Sgt. Joseph Felix, who stands accused of a wide range of absues while working at a recruit training facility in Parris Island, S.C.
According to The Washington Post, the charges being levied against Felix include cruelty and maltreatment, obstruction of justice, drunk and disorderly conduct and failure to obey a general order. He has pleaded not guilty.
The accounts of Felix's crimes are disturbing: Felix reportedly attacked and forced two Muslim recruits inside of an industrial sized clothing dryer, turning the machine on at least once.
“I was tumbling in there,” said victim Lance Cpl. Ameer Bourmeche, who was asked if he would renounce Islam while being abused. “I was burning up ... I lost all trust in my senior leaders and my brothers.”
Felix also allegedly physically assaulted a Marine seconds before the cadet jumped to his death. Prosecutors have not suggested that Felix is responsible for the suicide, but are using incidents leading up to the event as evidence of criminal and discriminatory behavior: “The court found that the death of Recruit Siddiqui would likely be relevant to this trial, and will permit the parties to present evidence of the fact," reads a Training and Education Command statement.
“Recruit Raheel Siddiqui is deceased,” said the judge, Lt. Col. Michael Libretto, to the member panel, a jury of eight Marines of equal or superior military rank to Felix. “As a result of his death, Raheel Siddiqui will not be a witness in this proceeding.”
“Evidence was found of multiple errors and omissions, to include failures to supervise and take the required actions by a number of officers and staff noncommissioned in the recruit’s chain of command, some of which rose to the level of dereliction of duty,” according to a redacted copy of the investigation that the Marine Corps has posted online.
Felix was heard going on anti-Muslim tyrades while intoxicated, calling Muslim recruits "terrorists" while insulting their religion.
The events occurred on Parris Island, a location considered somewhat sacred to Marines, sparking outrage within the military community.
In total, 76 witnesses are expected to testify in the trial.
[Photo: Getty Images]