Army sergeant guilty in private's suicide

Nov. 21, 2012 at 8:35 AM
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FAYETTEVILLE, N.C., Nov. 21 (UPI) -- A U.S. Army staff sergeant faces prison and dishonorable discharge in the 2011 suicide in Afghanistan of a soldier under his command.

Jurors at the court-martial of Staff Sgt. Andrew J. Van Bockel, 27, of Aberdeen, S.D., found him guilty of mistreating and hazing Pvt. Danny Chen and allowing others to haze Chen, The Fayetteville (N.C.) Observer reported Wednesday.

Van Bockel is the seventh of eight soldiers charged in Chen's suicide to be court-martialed.

Chen, 19, of New York killed himself in a guard tower at Combat Outpost Palace in southern Afghanistan on Oct. 3, 2011.

Officials said his suicide followed harassment and torment by his fellow soldiers and the squad's leader, Van Bockel.

Prosecutors charged Van Bockel failed to prevent ill treatment of Chen who arrived in Afghanistan shortly after completing his basic training.

Van Bockel faces a maximum sentence of four years, nine months in prison, total forfeiture of pay and allowances, and dishonorable discharge.

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