Marine who vanished twice to face trial on desertion charge

Reuters News
Posted: Nov 19, 2014 1:27 PM

WINSTON-SALEM N.C. (Reuters) - A U.S. Marine accused of deserting the military after disappearing in Iraq and then again failing to report for duty in North Carolina nearly 10 years ago will face a court martial in December, the Marine Corps said on Wednesday.

Corporal Wassef Ali Hassoun, an Arabic interpreter, was listed as a deserter for almost a decade before being taken into military custody earlier this year, according to the Marine Corps.

His military trial on charges of desertion, destruction of government property and larceny will be held next month at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina, where he failed to report for duty in January 2005 after a visit with his family, according to the Marine Corps.

By then, he had already been charged with desertion after vanishing from his base in Iraq in June 2004. When he turned up in Lebanon a month later, Hassoun denied deserting and said he had been kidnapped by militants, the military has said.

After investigating his claim, the military accused Hassoun of taking unauthorized leave from his unit. But before the start of military proceedings against him back in the United States, Hassoun failed to return to Camp Lejeune after visiting family in Utah, according to the Marine Corps.

He fled the United States through Canada and again went to Lebanon, where he was born, the military said.

The Marine Corps announced in June that Hassoun had turned himself in. Media reports said he gave himself up in Bahrain.

Hassoun's attorney could not be reached for comment on Wednesday. The court martial is set to begin on Dec. 8, the statement said.

(Reporting by Colleen Jenkins; Editing by Susan Heavey)