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Marine sergeant faces court-martial for allegedly hazing squad member who committed suicide
KANEOHE BAY, Hawaii (AP) ' A Hawaii-based Marine sergeant is being court-martialed on accusations that he hazed a member of his squad by ordering him to dig a foxhole as punishment for falling asleep on watch duty in Afghanistan.
Sgt. Benjamin Johns is one of three Marines accused of hazing Lance Cpl. Harry Lew of Santa Clara, Calif. Lew committed suicide April 3 after prosecutors say he endured several hours of abuse.
Prosecutors say Johns had no authority to punish a Marine by ordering him to dig a foxhole. They say ordering the dig made Johns derelict of his duty to ensure the welfare of Marines under his care.
Johns' defense team says the sergeant wasn't trying to punish Lew, and the new foxhole was supposed to help Lew stay awake.
The court-martial begins Tuesday at a Marine base in Kaneohe Bay.