A Marine Corps investigation into the suicide of a recruit in South Carolina has uncovered abuse by drill instructors, in a case that could result in military prosecution or discipline of 20 training personnel, officials said on Thursday.
Siddiqui, 20, arrived at Parris Island on March 7 and had been with his training company, known as Kilo Company, for only a day when he reported on March 13 that he wanted to commit suicide, Marine officials said.
Siddiqui was set to speak to the mental-health unit on base and a recruit liaison service the day following his claims but recanted them before speaking to the unit. The next day, Siddiqui was evaluated by the mental-health unit and returned to training.
The Marine Corps in a statement on Thursday said its investigation into Siddiqui’s death has led to a number of commanders and advisers being relieved of duty and the suspension of some drill instructors.
The statement did not say exactly how the alleged mistreatment of recruits at Parris Island might have contributed to Siddiqui’s suicide or how many members of the military were disciplined.
The son of Pakistani immigrants jumped over the wall of an outdoor stairwell at the depot and fell three stories, later dying at a medical center, according to the Wall Street Journal, which cited a casualty report.
The military investigation has resulted in accusations that drill instructors engaged in “recurrent physical and verbal abuse of recruits” and that commanders failed to properly supervise instructors, according to the Marine Corps statement.
In some cases, the instructors themselves were maltreated by senior colleagues, the investigation found.
Marine Corps Brigadier General David Furness said in a letter to a U.S. representative in June that the commanding officer for a training battalion at Parris Island was relieved of command.
“Today’s announcement by the Marine Corps is a first step in ensuring the family of Private Raheel Siddiqui receives the answers they deserve and that the Marine Corps is addressing the serious issues that led to this tragedy,” said Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.), who had pushed the Marine Corps for more transparency following Siddiqui’s death and has introduced a bill to ease hazing in the ranks. “This is the very least the Siddiqui family — and the thousands of families across our country whose children serve in uniform — deserve.”