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US Military Charges Eight Soldiers in Death of Army Private

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- On Oct. 3, Army Pvt. Danny Chen was found shot to death in a guard tower in Kandahar, Afghanistan. He was 19 years old.

Military officials believed he killed himself, but that wasn’t the whole story. One military official told Chen’s family he was the victim of terrible abuse by his fellow soldiers, according to an October account by The New York Times.  One example: his superiors were said to have dragged him out of bed one night and across the floor when he failed to turn off a water heater.

The belief was that Chen was abused because he is Asian-American.  His parents live in New York City and speak no English.

On Wednesday, the military announced it is charging eight soldiers in Chen’s death; five of them will be charged with negligent homicide -- a clear admission by the Army that Chen’s fellow soldiers caused his death. The eight are currently in U.S. military detention in Afghanistan. The next step is an Article 32 hearing -- the military’s equivalent of a grand jury.

Minority advocates have expressed concern over the treatment of Asians in the military.  Chen is the second Asian-American soldier to kill himself in Afghanistan this year.  In April, Lance Cpl. Harry Lew of California shot himself after his fellow Marines allegedly subjected him to brutal hazing. The Marines in that case were court martialed.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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