SAN DIEGO (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump congratulated a U.S. Navy SEAL platoon chief on Wednesday for being acquitted of murdering a captured Islamic State fighter, including that he was “glad he may assist” within the case.
U.S. Navy SEAL Particular Operations Chief Edward Gallagher walks with spouse Andrea Gallagher after being acquitted on a lot of the severe fees towards him throughout his court-martial trial at Naval Base San Diego in San Diego, California, U.S., July 2, 2019. REUTERS/John Gastaldo
The Twitter message got here a day after a army jury discovered Particular Operations Chief Eddie Gallagher, 39, not responsible of homicide, together with allegations he fatally stabbed the badly wounded Iraqi captive within the neck and shot at unarmed civilians from a sniper’s perch.
The seven-member jury did convict him of unlawfully posing for photos with the Islamic State fighter’s useless physique and had been set to resolve what, if any, sentence he would face for that cost on Wednesday.
“Congratulations to Navy Seal Eddie Gallagher, his fantastic spouse Andrea, and his whole household. You may have been by way of a lot collectively. Glad I may assist!” Trump wrote on Twitter.
Trump intervened in Gallagher’s case months in the past, ordering him moved from pretrial detention in a army brig to much less restrictive confinement at a Navy base in recognition of the embellished veteran’s “previous service to our nation.”
Gallagher thanked Trump, in addition to two Republican congressmen, earlier on Wednesday in an interview on Fox Information.
“I need to say thanks to Congressman Duncan Hunter and Congressman Ralph Norman and in addition to President Trump for intervening when he did,” Gallagher stated. Hunter is from California and Norman is from South Carolina.
The only offense of posing for unofficial photos with a human casualty, on this case the stays of the Iraqi whom Gallagher was acquitted of killing, carries a most sentence of 4 months’ imprisonment.
Navy authorities stated Gallagher will get credit score for practically seven months of time already served in pretrial custody, so he would presumably stay a free man. However he may obtain different punishment, similar to a demotion in rank and decreased pay.
Gallagher would have confronted a doable life jail sentence had he been discovered responsible of homicide or tried homicide.
Following Tuesday’s verdict, the courtroom was reconvened for a quick sentencing listening to, throughout which two buddies of Gallagher testified on his behalf as character witnesses.
The jury additionally heard from two medical doctors who specialise in mind accidents. They stated Gallagher suffered repeated concussions throughout his fight profession, placing him at excessive threat of mind degeneration and visible impairments that can require ongoing medical consideration.
Jurors had been as a result of return on Wednesday to the courthouse at U.S. Naval Base San Diego to resolve any penalties to be imposed.
Gallagher, who didn’t testify in his personal protection, insisted that disgruntled subordinates with no prior battlefield expertise fabricated allegations towards him over grievances together with his management fashion and techniques.
The chief petty officer was arrested in 2018, greater than a yr after coming back from his eighth abroad deployment in Mosul, in northern Iraq.
Protection attorneys argued that prosecutors lacked bodily proof to buttress their fees, they usually introduced a number of witnesses who contradicted the federal government’s narrative within the case.
In a shock blow to prosecutors in the course of the first week of the trial, a Navy SEAL medic testified it was he, not Gallagher, who triggered the dying of the gravely injured prisoner by blocking his respiratory tube, calling it a mercy killing.
Two protection witnesses – an Iraqi normal and a U.S. Marine employees sergeant – later testified they by no means noticed the Iraqi captive mistreated by anybody in the course of the 20 minutes he spent alive in American custody.
Reporting by Marty Graham in San Diego, extra reporting by Gabriella Borter in New York; Writing by Steve Gorman; Modifying by Scott Malone