SAN DIEGO (Reuters) – Closing arguments have been due in San Diego on Monday within the struggle crimes trial of a embellished U.S. Navy SEAL platoon chief charged with murdering a helpless Iraqi captive in his custody and taking pictures unarmed civilians.
FILE PHOTO – U.S. Navy SEAL Particular Operations Chief Edward Gallagher arrives at courtroom together with his spouse Andrea 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
The court-martial of Particular Operations Chief Edward Gallagher neared the conclusion of its trial section after a bumpy two weeks of testimony for Navy prosecutors in a case that has drawn the eye of U.S. President Donald Trump.
The 39-year-old profession fight veteran is charged with committing the premeditated homicide of a captured Islamic State fighter, dropped at Gallagher’s outpost for medical therapy, by repeatedly stabbing the teenage prisoner within the neck with a custom-made knife.
Gallagher is also charged with tried homicide within the wounding of two non-combatants – 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 detainee’s corpse.
The chief petty officer might face life in jail if convicted.
Gallagher has denied all fees, insisting that disgruntled subordinates fabricated allegations in opposition to him due to grievances together with his management type and fight ways. The protection additionally asserts that prosecutors lack bodily proof to show their case.
The Navy formally opened its investigation in September 2018, a couple of yr after Gallagher’s platoon returned from its deployment to Mosul in northern Iraq.
In a shock blow to the prosecution in the course of the trial’s first week, a Navy SEAL medic testified that it was he, not Gallagher, who brought about the dying of the younger Iraqi detainee by blocking his respiratory tube in what the witness described as a mercy killing.
Prosecutors accused the medic of adjusting his story and raised the opportunity of charging him with perjury.
Final week, two protection witnesses, an Iraqi normal and a U.S. Marine sergeant who have been current in the course of the incident, insisted they by no means noticed Gallagher or anybody else from the SEAL unit stab or in any other case mistreat the detainee earlier than he died.
One other SEAL crew member who acted as a sniper’s spotter for Gallagher testified he by no means noticed the defendant shoot an unarmed aged non-combatant.
Trump, who has mentioned he has been contemplating pardons for a variety of army personnel accused of struggle crimes, intervened in Gallagher’s case months in the past, ordering that he be moved from pretrial detention in a army brig to confinement at a Navy base.
The presiding decide later launched Gallagher from restrictions altogether in a rebuke to prosecutors for conduct the decide mentioned had infringed on the Navy SEAL’s proper to a good trial.
Following closing arguments from prosecutors and protection legal professionals, the case might go to the seven-member jury as early as Monday afternoon.
The jury consists of 5 Marines and two Navy personnel, all however one with fight expertise. Six of the panelists are enlisted personnel and only one is an officer.
Reporting by Marty Graham in San Diego; Writing and extra reporting by Steve Gorman in Los Angeles; Modifying by Peter Cooney