Eight American soldiers were charged Wednesday in connection with the mysterious death of Pvt. Danny Chen, whose body was found in southern Afghanistan in October and led his family and Chinatown community demanding justice.
"Over the last two months we have asked what happened to Danny," Chen's mother, Su Zhen, said through a translator during a news conference Wednesday. "It brings us some comfort and relief to know the Army is taking this seriously. The truth will come out."
Chen, 19, was the apparent victim of hazing in his unit. In letters provided by his family, the soldier said he was harassed for being Chinese and called "Jackie Chan."
The military initially said Chen committed suicide, and while the other soldiers may not have pulled the trigger, the charges suggest their actions contributed to his death.
They were charged with various crimes, including involuntary manslaughter and negligent homicide.
The Army said in a statement that "further information will be published as it becomes available."
"The people responsible for his death must not only be charged, but they must be found guilty of killing him," added Elizabeth OuYang, president of the New York Organization of Chinese Americans.
City Councilwoman Margaret Chin (D-Lower Manhattan) said the charges "prove that the actions of these soldiers were contributing factors in Danny’s death."
"These individuals must be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law,” she added.