2 isle soldiers
cleared of charges

The Army dismisses allegations
of abuse against Taliban forces

The Army has dismissed charges against two Schofield Barracks soldiers, including one from Waianae, for allegedly abusing a Taliban prisoner in Afghanistan in November.


Joseph Simpliciano: The 1993 Waianae grad had his charges dismissed

Honolulu attorney Eric Seitz said yesterday that the Army informed him by e-mail that the charges of conspiring to mistreat and beat a Taliban prisoner against his clients -- Sgt. Joseph Simpliciano and Staff Sgt. Marcus Edwards -- were dismissed.

Seitz said he doesn't expect further actions against Simpliciano, who graduated from Waianae High School in 1993, and Edwards, who married a woman from Hawaii. He said he does not know what prompted the Army's decision.

"I am ecstatic," said Seitz, who flew to Kandahar last month to represent the two soldiers -- members of Charlie Company, 2nd Battalion, 5th Infantry, which is assigned to Task Force Bronco -- at their Article 32 hearing.

That hearing, which is similar to a civilian preliminary hearing, was held to determine if there was enough evidence to send the case to a court-martial.

Army officials, who have never commented on the incident, which allegedly took place on Nov. 2, filed charges against Simpliciano on Jan. 5 and Edwards 14 days later. The two were charged with making a false statement and lying to their company commander when questioned about the incident.

The Army's charge sheet said that the alleged beating occurred while Simpliciano and Edwards were on duty near Forward Operating Base Cobra. The Army statement said Simpliciano draped a rope around the neck of Gul Mohamed-Nurzi and placed a knee on the suspect's back "to hold him stiff."

The Army claimed that Edwards hit the suspect repeatedly for 15 minutes to try to get information from him.

Seitz maintained that both a witness and the victim gave conflicting statements about the incident.

The victim, a contractor working at the base, was taken in for questioning after he was suspected of plotting attacks on the Army installation.

Simpliciano has said that he was never in the tent when the alleged beating occurred. Simpliciano, who re-enlisted in November so he could be assigned to the 25th Division's new Stryker brigade, fought in Iraq from April to August 2003.

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