A Marine hearing officer has postponed a decision on a Marine accused of deserting his unit in Iraq 10 years ago.
Lt. Col. Scott Martin adjourned the Article 32 hearing Thursday for Cpl. Wassef Hassoun by at least a week so the defense can provide translated Lebanese government documents. An Article 32 hearing is the military equivalent of a grand jury.
Defense attorney Haytham Faraj says Hassoun was kept in Lebanon for years for court proceedings triggered by a U.S. warrant accusing him of desertion. Faraj says Hassoun contacted U.S. authorities as soon as the Lebanese case against him ended.
Prosecutors argue that there is overwhelming circumstantial evidence that Hassoun was unhappy and fled the Marine Corps in Iraq and later fled to Lebanon after briefly returning to the U.S.
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A local Marine accused of faking his own kidnapping once and deserting the Corps twice is in a Camp Lejeune courtroom this morning.
Corporal Wassef Hassoun is accused of disappearing twice from the Marine Corps.
The first incident was in June of 2004 in a purported kidnapping by Islamic extremists, according to Camp Lejeune officials. A week after that disappearance, a photo of Hassoun showed up on Al-Jazzera television with him wearing a blindfold. Soon after, officials said the Marine contacted Americans in Beirut to say he was kidnapped.
In January of 2005, the Corps said Hassoun was visiting family in Utah when he did not return. That incident happened before a grand-jury style hearing regarding his previous disappearance.
By June, Hassoun turned himself in back in.
After an investigation, Hassoun is now having an Article 32 hearing, which is similar to a civilian grand jury proceeding, only that it is open to the public and media.
Military officials have scheduled an Article 32 hearing this week for a Marine accused of faking his own kidnapping in Iraq as well as failing to return to his base after visiting relatives in Utah.
A statement from Camp Lejeune on Tuesday said the hearing for Cpl. Wassef Ali Hassoun is scheduled for Thursday. A Marine Corps spokesman says the results of the hearing will determine what action will be taken.
Hassoun disappeared twice from the military - first in June 2004 in a purported kidnapping by Islamic extremists, and in January 2005 when he failed to return to Camp Lejeune.
Hassoun turned himself in to military authorities in June and is in custody in the brig at Camp Lejeune pending an investigation and decisions on the charges against him.
Copyright 2016 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.