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BY ALINE REYNOLDS | New developments in the death of U.S. Army Private Danny Chen have local Chinatown advocates hopeful that justice will be served with respect to two of the soldiers implicated in soldier’s apparent suicide.
Following preliminary military hearings in Afghanistan that concluded Sunday, Feb. 12, U.S. Army investigators have recommended that First Lieutenant Daniel J. Schwartz and Sergeant Travis Carden be tried for all charges, including dereliction of duty, maltreatment and assault.
It is now up to the brigade commander to make a final determination about whether or not forward the charges to a court-martial or turn over the decision to his superior for final disposition.
Schwartz, a 25-year-old Maryland native, faces eight counts of dereliction of duty, while 25-year-old Carden, from Fowler, Indiana, faces two counts of violation of a lawful general regulation, two counts of maltreatment and one count of assault toward Chen.
“It is significant that [the charges are] being recommended for a court-martial,” said Elizabeth OuYang, President of the Organization for Chinese American’s (OCA) New York Chapter, a lead advocate in the Chen case. “We are relieved no charges were dropped.”
Schwartz allegedly violated military law when he failed to report mistreatment of Chen that he was apprised of, OuYang noted. “This is a blatant failure of leadership,” she said.
Chen’s parents released a statement, saying, “This is good news. We were pleased to see the process is moving forward, but we still must wait to see if justice will ultimately be served.”
Chen was found dead last October in a guard tower in Kandahar, Afghanistan, where he was deployed. Investigations by the army have since revealed that the soldier was racially taunted and physically abused by his peers in the months leading up to his death.
The purpose of the hearings is to decide whether or not there are reasonable grounds for the accused soldiers’ trials, according to military officials. The army has yet to decide whether to hold the trials, pending their approval, in Alaska, Chen’s domestic military base; or in Afghanistan, where he was serving.