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Trial over soldier's suicide begins

Aug. 16, 2012 at 8:31 PM

FAYETTEVILLE, N.C., Aug. 16 (UPI) -- A trial began in North Carolina Thursday for a U.S. Army sergeant accused of failing to prevent abuse that allegedly led to a soldier's suicide in Afghanistan.

Staff Sgt. Blaine G. Dugas Jr., 36, of Port Arthur, Texas, is the third non-commissioned to be court-martialed in the death of Pvt. Danny Chen, the Fayetteville (N.C.) Observer reported.

Dugas is accused of failing "to foster a climate in which everyone is treated with dignity and respect, regardless of race," court documents state.

Investigators said Chen was mistreated and abused by other soldiers because of his Chinese-American heritage. The abuse led to Chen's suicide in Afghanistan Oct. 3, 2011.

Officials said Dugas should have prevented the abuse.

Dugas is also accused of giving a false statement to investigators and wrongfully possessing and consuming alcohol.

His trial began Thursday at Fort Bragg, KIII-TV, Corpus Cristi, Texas, reported.

Five other soldiers are expected to face courts-martial in the coming weeks.

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