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Family of murdered Marine 'betrayed' after Afghan killer gets 7-year sentence

Jul. 25, 2014 - 06:00AM   |  
From left to right: Marine Lance Cpl. Gregory T. Buckley, Marine Cpl. Richard A. Rivera Jr. and Marine Staff Sgt. Scott E. Dickinson.
From left to right: Marine Lance Cpl. Gregory T. Buckley, Marine Cpl. Richard A. Rivera Jr. and Marine Staff Sgt. Scott E. Dickinson. ()
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What happened and when

This is the official Marine Corps timeline of legal events following an insider attack at Forward Operating Base Delhi in Afghanistan’s Helmand province. The family of Lance Cpl. Greg Buckley Jr., one of the Marines killed in the attack, has publicly disputed the accuracy of the Corps’ official timeline through their attorney.

Aug. 10, 2012: Shooting aboard Forward Operating Base Delhi.
Aug. 29, 2012: A bone density test indicates the accused is 17 years old.
March 7, 2013: Line of Duty Determination-Preliminary Inquiry (LODD-PI) in the case of Lance Cpl. Greg Buckley Jr. delivered by casualty assistance calls officer (CACO) to his mother and father.
March 7, 2013: LODD-PI in the case of Staff Sgt. Scott Dickinson delivered by CACO to his wife.
March 9, 2013: LODD-PI in the case of Cpl. Richard Rivera Jr. delivered by CACO to his mother.
April 11, 2013: LODD-P in the case of Rivera delivered by CACO to his father.
Aug. 13, 2013: LODD-PI in the case of Dickinson delivered by CACO to his mother and father.
Aug./Sept. 2013: Family calls Naval Criminal Investigative Service Special Agent seeking basic information.
Sept./Oct. 2013: Marine Expeditionary Brigade-A deputy staff judge advocate e-mails the CACOs assigned to assist the Buckley, Rivera and Dickinson families.
Oct./Nov. 2013: Various letters and pictures were collected from family members for use at the trial.
Nov. 2013: MEB-A deputy SJA spoke with Buckley's aunt via telephone, addressing her concerns.
Nov. 2013-Jan 2014: MEB-A deputy SJA provided periodic e-mail updates to the CACO's and the family members involved.
Dec. 2013: Each family is asked for impact statements at the request of the U.S. Department of Justice mentors.
Jan./Feb. 2014: MEB-A deputy SJA turns over duties with incoming deputy SJA. All e-mail correspondence and victim-impact evidence was copied in electronic form and turned over. The families and CACO's were also notified of the transition ahead of time and given new MEB-A deputy SJA's e-mail address.
March 1, 2014: MEB-A deputy SJA notifies Buckley's aunt that case formally recommended for prosecution and forwarded to chief prosecutor. No trial date set.
March 25, 2014: DoJ mentor informs deputy SJA that chief prosecutor indicates intent to request age verification test.
April 11, 2014: MEB-A deputy SJA informs Buckley's aunt that the prosecutor determined the shooter must undergo a second age verification test administered by a three doctor panel with the Ministry of Health. Notifies aunt of differences in possible outcomes when tried as a juvenile.
April 25, 2014: MEB-A deputy SJA contacts NCIS regarding the original bone density and is told that it indicated the accused was estimated to be 17 at the time of the shooting.
May 10, 2014: Age verification test is conducted.
June 2, 2014: Afghan prosecutor's adult indictment is signed.
June 30, 2014: An Afghan judge determined that Ainuddin Khudairaham would be tried as a juvenile for the murders.
July 20, 2014: Afghan juvenile court officially receives the case. MEB-A deputy SJA notifies the Buckley family via email.
July 21, 2014: MEB-A deputy SJA notifies all families that shooter will be tried as a juvenile.
July 21, 2014: MEB-A deputy SJA receives email notification during the evening indicating the trial will begin the following day, on July 22.
July 22, 2014: The MEB-A staff judge advocate SJA notified CACOs of the trial's commencement, and the subsequent notification of families commenced.
July 23, 2014: Ainuddin is convicted and sentenced to serve 7 years and 6 months in confinement, the jurisdictional maximum under Afghan law.
July 24, 2014: CACOs initiate notifications to the families regarding the outcome of the Afghan legal proceeding.

Source: Marine Corps

The family of a Marine killed during an insider attack in Afghanistan says they were outraged to discover this week that the attacker’s trial took place recently in an Afghan court without their knowledge.

Mary Liz Grosseto, whose nephew Lance Cpl. Greg Buckley Jr. was gunned down in August 2012 along with two other Marines at a forward operating base in the Garmser district of Afghanistan’s Helmand province, told Marine Corps Times that the shooter, Ainuddin Khudairaham, was tried July 22 before a panel of three Afghan judges and sentenced the next day to seven years in prison.

A Marine Corps spokesman at the Pentagon, Col. Sean Gibson, confirmed that Ainuddin’s trial had taken place. Marine officials in Afghanistan learned July 21 that the trial would happen the next day, he said. Casualty assistance officers stateside were notified next and then began sharing the news with the families of those killed.

Ainuddin’s 7½-year jail term is the maximum for a minor under Afghan law, Gibson said.

The attack took place in the base gym at Forward Operating Base Delhi. Buckley, 21, died along with Staff Sgt. Scott Dickinson, 29, and Cpl. Richard Rivera, 20.

Ainuddin was employed on the base by Sarwar Jan, an Afghan police chief with a dubious past. He served as Jan’s “tea boy” and was never vetted by military authorities.

Grosseto said her family was dismayed to learn that Ainuddin was tried as a juvenile. At the time of his arrest, Ainuddin’s age was unclear. The Washington Post, which was the first media outlet to detail the attack, reported he was 15. Grosseto, however, said bone density tests taken at the time of her nephew’s murder showed Ainuddin was 19 or 20 then.

A Marine Corps attorney overseeing the case in Afghanistan, Maj. Jennifer Parker, emailed Buckley’s family on July 19, Grosseto said, to inform them a new age inspection, performed by three Afghan doctors, determined Ainuddin was in fact still a juvenile when he committed the crime. An Afghan judge decided June 30 that Ainuddin would be tried as such.

Parker deferred comment to Marine Corps headquarters.

“Based on the immature appearance of the suspect and lack of birth records, two age verification tests were conducted by Afghan medical personnel,” Gibson said. “Both tests estimated the suspect’s age to be between 17 and 18 at the time of the murders.”

Grosseto said her family was devastated to learn the trial had taken place without their knowledge. They have publicly pushed for Ainuddin to be tried in the U.S. , and said Marine officials promised to keep them apprised of any developments.

“We feel so betrayed,” she said. “Yes, we blame the Afghans. And we blame the United States Marines.”

Buckley’s father, Greg Buckley Sr., slept in his son’s bed the night he heard the news, holding his picture and apologizing to him, Grosseto said.

The family is pursuing answers through an attorney, Michael Bowe of the New York firm Kasowitz, Benson, Torres & Friedman LLP. Bowe sent a strongly worded letter to Parker on July 23 saying the amount of information the family was receiving was unacceptable, and asking that she provide the names of the U.S. mentors overseeing prosecution of the case in Afghanistan.

“The Marine Corps’ abandonment and mistreatment of this Gold Star family and the result of this sham legal proceeding is a shameful travesty,” Bowe said in a statement. “The Buckley family will not stop until this murderer is brought to justice in the United States, and laws are put in place to ensure no other Gold Star family is ever similarly abused.”

Gibson disagreed with Grosseto’s claim that the Marine Corps’ communication with the families of the fallen Marines had been lacking. Marine legal officials contacted the families in December to obtain victim impact statements for use during Ainuddin’s trial, he said, and provided periodic updates since then.

“At various times over the past 23 months, family members have been contacted by Marine [casualty assistance officers], Marine Corps staff judge advocates and Naval Criminal Investigative Service agents,” Gibson said. “Our approach to supporting the families of our fallen Marines is based on our unwavering commitment to loyalty.”

Grosseto and Bowe said the Buckley family was never asked for victim impact statements.

This development with Ainuddin is the latest in a series of strange turns in the aftermath of the insider attack, and officials say the NCIS investigation is ongoing, nearly two years later.

It’s unclear where Ainuddin’s superior, Sarwar Jan, is. Marine officials did not immediately address a question about his whereabouts. Moreover, no information has been released addressing why Jan and Ainuddin were permitted on the base or how Jan, who was previously forced out as police chief in the town of Musa Qala after Marines found him selling uniforms to the Taliban, had regained favor with coalition forces.

The case also is linked to the Marine Corps’ prosecution last year of Maj. Jason Brezler , a reserve civil affairs officer who was involved in Jan’s firing in Musa Qala. Some two years after Brezler returned home from Afghanistan, he received a panicked email from a Marine colleague seeking information on Jan’s past misdeeds. Brezler sent him a document that included classified information, sending it over an unclassified network.

At an administrative hearing last December, a panel of senior Marine Corps officers recommended that Brezler be discharged from the service for violating correct classification protocols. Grosseto and Buckley Sr. attended the hearing to support him.

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