Weeks after the U.S. Southern Command began investigating reports that 12 troops engaged in misconduct during President Obama's visit to Cartagena, Colombia, the entire matter is still being reviewed to see if the evidence is strong enough for the military to take disciplinary action against those alleged to have been involved.
Military lawyers at U.S. Southern Command "are evaluating evidence obtained during the investigation to determine admissibility and strength of the evidence," the U.S. Southern Command said in a statement updating the status of the investigation.
The individual military services have reviewed the evidence against the 12 individuals and made their recommendations to Gen. Douglas Fraser, the commanding general of Southern Command. It is now up to him, pending advice from his legal team, to make the decision on how to proceed.
There are three options if there is a decision to take action. One is adverse administrative action, which could include a letter of reprimand or admonishment. Generally these types of actions end careers. A second is nonjudicial punishment, which could include withholding pay, reduction in ranks or confinement. These actions can be appealed by a service member, who can challenge the evidence and call witnesses. The third is military court-martial, which can lead to trial and conviction.
"Gen. Fraser is also carefully reviewing the information and is required by law to consider numerous factors to include the nature of the offenses, any mitigating or extenuating circumstances, the character and military service of the suspects and the recommendations of subordinate commanders. The goal is a disposition that is warranted, based on admissible evidence, just, appropriate and fair," the Southern Command statement said.