The Article 32 investigation into the actions of LtCol Chessani will be reopened on 8AUG07. The purpose of the hearing is to conduct further examination of evidence submitted during the original investigation in May 2007. The prosecutors recommended, to LtGen Mattis, that two additional charges of dereliction of duty be brought against LtCol Chessani. LtGen Mattis agreed to reopen the investigation.
LtCol Chessani is facing the following charge and specifications:
Charge: Violation of the UCMJ, Article 92
(Violation of a lawful order): wrongfully failed to accurately report and thoroughly investigate a possible, suspected, or alleged violation of the law of war by Marines under his command. Maximum punishment dismissal, forfeiture of all pay and allowances, and confinement for 2 years)
(Dereliction): willfully failed to ensure that this possible, suspected, or alleged violation of the law of war was accurately reported to higher headquarters. (Maximum punishment: Dismissal,forfeiture of all pay and allowances, and confinement for 6 months)
(Dereliction): willfully failed to direct a thorough investigation into this possible, suspected, or alleged violation of the law of
war. (Maximum punishment: Dismissal, forfeiture of all pay
and allowances, and confinement for 6 months)
Note: in the military justice system there is the charge, which is a listing of the numerical article of the UCMJ, and the specification, which is a description of the necessary facts of the violation of the UCMJ. That is the jargon. Essentially LtCol Chessani is facing three charges. The results of LtCol Chessani’s Article 32 recommenced charged proceed to court-martial for dereliction of duty. The investigating officer found that LtCol Chessani “failed to thoroughly and accurately report and investigate a combat engagement that clearly needed scrutiny.”
The three charges are essentially the same. The orders violations are for failing obey an order requiring Marines to report violations of the law of war. The dereliction of duty charges are for being derelict in his duties by failing to investigate and report violations of the law of war.
It is unlikely that this further investigation will result in “new” charges, as it did not appear that new evidence regarding LtCol Chessani came out during any of the other investigations. These new charges of dereliction of duty will likely be rewording of the previous specifications. In substance these are not new, just different wording to describe the alleged dereliction of duty.
LtCol Chessani is represented by former Marine judge advocate Brian Rooney of the Thomas More Law Center.