SAN DIEGO (Reuters) – Protection attorneys within the homicide trial of a U.S. Navy SEAL rested their case on Friday after three days of testimony contesting accusations that the platoon chief had fatally stabbed a wounded Iraqi captive and shot harmless civilians.
FILE PHOTO: U.S. Navy SEAL Particular Operations Chief Edward Gallagher arrives at court docket along with his spouse Andrea and brother Sean (C) for the beginning of his court-martial trial at Naval Base San Diego in San Diego, California, U.S., June 18, 2019. REUTERS/Mike Blake/File Picture
The final protection witness known as by attorneys for Particular Operations Chief Edward Gallagher was Navy Lieutenant Commander Robert Breisch, who testified that nobody made a report back to him accusing Gallagher of warfare crimes whereas his platoon was in Iraq.
After the protection rested, the presiding decide stated he deliberate to present directions to the seven-member jury on Monday earlier than the 2 sides current closing arguments.
Breisch, the SEAL Staff 7 troop commander through the 2017 Iraq deployment in query, testified that complaints about Gallagher had solely concerned private, petty points or tactical grievances, till months after the troops returned.
The Navy formally opened its investigation of Gallagher in September 2018, a couple of yr after his platoon had returned to the US.
Breisch instructed jurors that one platoon member immediately “blurted out” to him in April 2018 that Gallagher had stabbed a prisoner. an accusation Breisch stated got here after phrase surfaced that Gallagher was up for a Silver Star medal, the San Diego Union-Tribune stated.
Breisch’s account was at odds with that of one other protection witness, Grasp Chief Petty Officer Brian Alazzawi. He testified on Wednesday that Breisch was made conscious of the stabbing allegation as early as October 2017, the Union-Tribune stated.
Gallagher, 39, a adorned profession fight veteran, is charged with committing premeditated homicide of a wounded, teenage Islamic State fighter in his custody by stabbing him within the neck with a knife.
He’s additionally charged with tried homicide within the wounding of two civilians, a schoolgirl and an aged man, shot from a sniper’s perch, in addition to with obstruction of justice and different offenses. These embrace unlawfully posing for pictures with the lifeless captive’s corpse.
Gallagher might face life in jail if convicted.
He has denied all costs. The thrust of his protection has been that fellow SEAL group members testifying towards him underneath grants of immunity are disgruntled subordinates fabricating allegations to drive him from the Navy.
In a significant setback for prosecutors final week, a Navy SEAL medic testified it was he, not Gallagher, who brought on the dying of the Iraqi detainee by blocking the youth’s respiratory tube in what he described as a mercy killing.
On Thursday, an Iraqi common and a U.S. Marine who took the witness stand every testified he by no means noticed Gallagher or anybody else stab or in any other case mistreat the captive earlier than he died of fight wounds.
The case has drawn consideration from U.S. President Donald Trump, who intervened months in the past to order Gallagher moved from a army brig to much less restrictive pre-trial confinement at a Navy base.
The decide later launched him from custody.
Reporting by Marty Graham in San Diego; Writing and extra reporting by Steve Gorman in Los Angeles; Enhancing by Clarence Fernandez