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Eight charged in death of New York soldier

KABUL, Afghanistan -- The U.S. Army has charged eight soldiers deployed to Afghanistan in the death of Pvt. Danny Chen, a 19-year-old Chinese-American who was bullied and taunted by fellow troops over his heritage.

Chen was found in a guard tower in southern Afghanistan after apparently shooting himself, NATO-led forces in Afghanistan said Wednesday.

Chen's platoon leader, 1st Lt. Daniel Schwartz, was among the accused, charged with dereliction of duty. Other soldiers face charges including involuntary manslaughter, assault and negligent homicide.

The case has resonated in Chen's hometown of New York City, where his mother gave an emotional news conference calling for justice for her son while Asian-American activists criticized the Army for tolerating hazing and racial discrimination.

"Whether suicide or homicide, those responsible for mistreating Danny caused his death. They must be prosecuted to the full extent of the law for the killing of Danny Chen," said Elizabeth OuYang, president of the New York chapter of the Organization of Chinese Americans, which represents Asian-Americans.

The Pentagon called Chen's death a "tragic incident" but strongly rejected accusations that racial discrimination was tolerated.

The charges were the result of a commander's inquiry into the death of Chen, an only child born in the United States to immigrant parents.

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