Lawyer: Urinating on Taliban 'Poor Taste,' Not Desecration

The Marines videotaped urinating on the bodies of Taliban fighters were acting in "poor taste," but did not "desecrate" the bodies, a defense lawyer for one of the Marines said Tuesday, reports the Associated Press:

Sgt. Robert W. Richards and three other Marines were videotaped relieving themselves on the corpses during a July 2011 mission in the Musa Qala district of Helmand province. The video shows four Marines in full combat gear urinating on the bodies of three Afghans. One Marine looks down at the bodies and says, "Have a good day, buddy." [...]

Richards is charged with multiple counts of dereliction of duty, violating orders and conduct prejudicial to good order and discipline. The charges outlined at Tuesday's hearing will determine if there's evidence to proceed to a court-martial.

Prosecutors allege that besides taking improper photos and video images, Richards failed to properly supervise fellow Marines who indiscriminately fired their weapons.

Marine prosecutors have said the act amounted to the desecration of the corpses. Another Marine who pleaded guilty said the act was done out of anger toward the Taliban. "Killing them wasn't enough," the Marine said.

The hearing also concerned video from the preceding engagement by the Marines with the Taliban, which, according to the battalion commander, seemed excessive. One Marine said he was not shot at during the six-hour actions.