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3rd soldier court-martialed in Pvt. Danny Chen's suicide; sentence criticized as light

Private Danny Chen
Private Danny ChenHandout / Reuters

The third soldier to be court-martialed in hazing related to the Oct. 3 suicide of Army Pvt. Danny Chen in Afghanistan was found guilty of dereliction of duty Friday after pleading guilty to wrongfully possessing and consuming alcohol in violation of a general order.

Private Danny Chen
Private Danny ChenHandout / Reuters

Staff Sgt. Blaine Dugas, an infantryman assigned to the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division at Fort Wainwright, was demoted to sergeant and sentenced to three months of confinement with a 90-day credit for time served before his trial.

The charges relate to Dugas’ failure to prevent subordinates from mistreating Chen, 19, and engaging in abusive behavior, as well as a false statement Dugas made to investigators claiming he hadn’t been informed of Chen’s mistreatment.

See the story at KTUU

Elizabeth OuYang, president of OCA-NY, a national civil rights organization serving Asian Pacific Americans, told NBC News the sentence was disappointingly light.

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“It’s outrageous. The military justice system cannot deliver justice,” OuYang said.

Dugas' "failure to ensure the physical well-being of Private Chen cost Danny his life," OuYang said.

Eight soldiers have been charged in connection with Chen’s suicide, with four subsequently recommended for trial.

In previous courts-martial related to the Chen case, Sgt. Adam Holcomb was sentenced last month to 30 days in prison and a demotion, while Spc. Ryan J. Offutt received a six-month sentence earlier this week as well as a demotion to private and a bad conduct discharge.

Related: Sergeant faces 30 days, demotion over soldier's suicide

NBC station KTUU and NBC News' Miranda Leitsinger contributed to this report.

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