JACKSONVILLE, ONSLOW COUNTY - Corporal Wassef Ali Hassoun is accused of deserting the Marine Corps in June 2004 while stationed at Camp Fallujah, Iraq.
He's also accused of desertion in January 2005 when he failed to return to Camp Lejeune from leave.
The purpose of Thursday's hearing was to weigh and evaluate the evidence in this case.
A Camp Lejeune press release states that a few days after Hassoun left Camp Fallujah, he appeared in a video as a supposed victim of kidnapping. NCIS believes Hassoun staged the video.
He was taken into custody at the US Embassy in Beirut in July 2004, and returned to Camp Lejeune.
In a second instance, Hassoun is accused of deserting in January 2005 when he failed to return to Camp Lejeune from leave.
Hassoun's attorney says while on authorized leave, he traveled to Labanon, where his family lives. The attorney says his client was arrested the day he was scheduled to come home. He claims Lebanese officials wouldn't let Hassoun travel for 8 years.
Hassoun contacted immigration in 2013 and turned himself in to the military in June of this year.
Prosecutors opened Thursday's hearing with statements from witnesses who said Hassoun was unhappy and planned to desert the Marine Corps.
Hassoun's attorney asked if these non-US citizen witnesses could testify. A special agent with NCIS said it would be difficult to find them.
While prosecutors argued the witnesses provided overwhelming circumstantial evidence, the defense said no direct evidence that Hassoun deserted exists.
Both sides have until August 27th to file objections. The investigating officer could make a recommendation after that. The recommendation could include a court martial, non judicial punishment, or administrative separation.
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