United Kingdom — Three Royal Marines have been jailed for their roles in a twisted initiation ceremony that left a colleague suicidal and forced him to endure “40 minutes of depravity and naked humiliation.” A fourth was sentenced to unpaid community work for battery and disgraceful conduct during the ‘joining run’ initiation event in May 2014.
Three men, Marine Ian Tennet, Lance Corporal Scott Sim, and Lance Corporal James Taylor were all charged with ill-treatment of a subordinate. Tennet was sentenced to 11 months while Simm and Taylor both received eight-month sentences. The fourth defendant, Marine Ryan Logan, was ordered to serve 220 hours of unpaid community work after being convicted for his role in a water-boarding incident.
The brutal initiation ceremony carried out by 45 Commando, based at Royal Marine Condor in Arbroath, Scotland — and witnessed by 80 drunken colleagues — was described in court as nothing more than a rite of passage to harness bonding. It involved the victim, Carlo Nicholson, and other newcomers to the unit being forced to run naked around the camp with bottles of milk and lemonade taped to their arms.
Though this was allegedly seen by the majority of joiners to the service as a tradition and bonding experience, Nicholson was also forced to lie in a paddling pool full of urine and vomit while eggs were thrown at him. Additionally, he was made to fight other marines while naked and covered in cooking oil. He was forced to consume dog food from a can while on all fours.
Nicholson, who is suing the Ministry of Defence over his treatment and has since left the service, claims the incident left him suicidal. Despite his intention to launch a military career, he said he has completely lost faith in the corps. “I do not feel I can go back to work because wherever I go, I will always be that guy — the guy who reported it,” he said.
The young recruit said he snapped during a waterboarding incident when he panicked due to physical fear. The simulated drowning technique dates back hundreds of years and is just one of many gruesome torture methods used to gain often-faulty intelligence — or simply to punish people. The enhanced interrogation technique has been described by the International Committee of the Red Cross as torture and in violation of the Geneva Convention. Back in 2009, Vietnam veteran and former presidential candidate Duncan Hunter claimed hundreds of U.S. military personnel waterboard themselves during training to toughen themselves up. A year later, George Bush went so far as to say waterboarding terrorists saved British lives.
In view of these high-profile stamps of approval on the practice — and during the same week an inquiry was launched into whether British soldiers were involved in attempting to drown Iraqi civilians — it’s little surprise that a group of drunken twenty-somethings found it funny to carry out waterboarding as a prank. While some may consider their sentences extraordinarily light considering the circumstances, it’s worth noting that if they had carried out the practice on a perceived enemy, they might as well have been given a medal.
* * *