A high-ranking former Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island training battalion commander was arraigned Wednesday ahead of his court-martial, according to the Marine Corps Times.
No trial date has been set yet for Lt. Col. Joshua Kissoon, who faces a general court-martial — the highest-level military court — which is extremely rare for a battalion commander, according to the Corps.
Kissoon allegedly failed to sideline drill instructor Gunnery Sgt. Joseph A. Felix — who was under investigation for allegedly hazing a different recruit — allowing him to continue supervising trainees, including former recruit Raheel Siddiqui, who died March 18, 2016, following an alleged altercation with Felix.
Felix should not have been supervising recruits, according to the Corps.
Kissoon was relieved of his command of the depot’s 3rd Recruit Training Battalion the day before Siddiqui died, according to the Corps, although that decision was made public two weeks later. That battalion has been subject of numerous investigations of hazing and recruit abuse in the wake of Siddiqui’s death.
Siddiqui died after he jumped nearly 40 feet from the third story of his barracks. The Corps has ruled his death a suicide. The Siddiqui family and their attorney Shiraz Khan disagree with that determination.
Moments before Siddiqui jumped, a drill instructor — since identified as Felix — allegedly slapped Siddiqui forcefully in the face, according to a Corps investigation of the incident.
Siddiqui had reportedly been sick and was attempting to request permission to seek medical treatment, but failed to properly convey that request. Felix reportedly made the recruit run a series of punitive sprints across the barracks. Siddiqui collapsed to the floor, unresponsive according to some witnesses. Felix attempted to wake the recruit and then allegedly slapped him, according to the investigation. Siddiqui then jumped up, ran out the back of the barracks and vaulted over the railing.
Felix was arraigned April 26 and faces charges ranging from cruelty and maltreatment to obstruction of justice. He will be tried by general court-martial beginning Oct. 30 at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, N.C.
In addition to his alleged mistreatment of Siddiqui, Felix has also been accused of hazing and harming Ameer Bourmeche by ordering him into a commercial clothes dryer, turning it on — burning Bourmeche — and interrogating him about his loyalty and faith.
Bourmeche, like Siddiqui, was a Muslim recruit — Felix is alleged to have called both men “terrorist” at points in their training.
Kissoon is accused of several violations of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, including failing to obey an order; making a false statement; and conduct unbecoming an officer.
He has retained Colby Vokey, a retired Marine Corps lieutenant colonel and highly respected attorney who’s represented clients in high-profile cases involving the handling of detainees at Guantanamo Bay and the Haditha, Iraq, murder investigation.
Kissoon is the highest-ranked Marine to be referred to a court-martial in the wake of the hazing and recruit abuse scandal.