U.S. Marines accused of assaulting Australian freed by U.S. military court

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Monday, June 27, 2005

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US Marine Corps Seal

Two U.S. marines were recently cleared of charges in the brutal assault of an Australian youth in a Townsville nightclub February 2004. The alleged assault occurred within Australian jurisdiction, however permission was given by the victim and Attorney-general Phillip Ruddock for the matter to be transferred to a military court in the US.

"I've asked for a full report on the matter," Mr Ruddock said.

Heath Twomey, a student in Townsville, had his throat cut during the assault. He wasn't asked to give evidence in the court, and only found out about the acquittal through the media. His father said that Heath had been forever changed by the incident.

"He was assaulted by being hit with a bottle, he had his throat slashed, it nearly penetrated the jugular vein," he said.

Mr Twomey claimed that his son was pressured by US officials to accept the transfer of jurisdiction. He says that his son was led to believe that the penalty would be more severe.

"It's such a foreign outcome compared to what would normally ensue within the Queensland justice system," he said.

Ruddock is investigating the matter, and has asked for a full report from the US Judge Advocate General, who prosecutes all military cases.

"I want to know whether or not [justice has been done], I want that matter tested," he said.

The US Embassy referred inquiries to the JAG office. They have been approached by The World Today, but are yet to comment.