SEALs get im­mu­nity in trial at Naval Base San Diego

The Tribune (SLO) - - News - BY AN­DREW DYER

New de­tails in the case against a Navy SEAL charged with mul­ti­ple war crimes emerged dur­ing a marathon hear­ing last week at Naval Base San Diego.

Fri­day’s hear­ing re­vealed that seven Navy SEALs have been granted im­mu­nity to tes­tify for the pros­e­cu­tion dur­ing the up­com­ing trial of Ed­ward R. Gal­lagher, a chief spe­cial war­fare op­er­a­tor al­leged to have mur­dered a wounded teenage Is­lamic State com­bat­ant by stab­bing him in the neck.

The trial phase is sched­uled for Feb. 19. Pros­e­cu­tors ex­pect to call the seven SEALs and up to 13 ad­di­tional wit­nesses of the May 2017 slay­ing in Mo­sul, Iraq. De­fense at­tor­neys asked the judge, Navy Capt. Aaron Rugh, to sup­press some as­pects of those wit­nesses’ ex­pected tes­ti­mony, par­tic­u­larly the num­bers of peo­ple Gal­lagher al­legedly bragged about killing.

Wit­nesses told in­ves­ti­ga­tors that Gal­lagher boasted of killing up to 200 peo­ple dur­ing the 2017 de­ploy­ment. An­other wit­ness said Gal­lagher told him he killed “three a day” and to “do the math” for the to­tal num­ber he killed.

The de­fense ar­gued that these fig­ures would prej­u­dice a jury panel. The judge de­nied the mo­tion. De­fense at­tor­neys also asked that ev­i­dence seized from three of Gal­lagher’s cell­phones be sup­pressed. All ev­i­dence in the case is un­der a pro­tec­tive or­der, but pho­tos, videos and text mes­sages are part of the gov­ern­ment’s case against the SEAL.

Gal­lagher took the stand and tes­ti­fied that when he was ar­rested on Sept. 11, he was not al­lowed to call his at­tor­ney. Naval Crim­i­nal In­ves­tiga­tive Ser­vice in­ter­roga­tors asked him to use his fin­ger­prints to un­lock his phone, he said, and in­ves­ti­ga­tors watched Gal­lagher en­ter his pass code, which they used to un­lock his other de­vices.

The judge had not ruled on that mo­tion as of late Fri­day evening. Pros­e­cu­tors also re­vealed they have a knife re­cov­ered from Naval Spe­cial War­fare Group 1 in Coron­ado and that it tested pos­i­tive for DNA. They did not say whose DNA or that it was the mur­der weapon, though it was un­der­go­ing fur­ther test­ing.

More de­tails about the bat­tle that pre­cip­i­tated that al­leged mur­der also came to light.

Pros­e­cu­tors said the in­ci­dent be­gan May 3, 2017, with a drone strike and two Hell­fire mis­siles hit­ting two sides of a home in Mo­sul. Wit­ness state­ments con­flict about whether the in­jured Is­lamic State fighter was in­side the home when it was struck. The pros­e­cu­tion says he was, but the de­fense said their wit­nesses say he was in­jured by gun­fire, not the drone strike. Both sides agree that Iraqi forces loaded the com­bat­ant onto the hood of a Humvee and de­liv­ered him to Gal­lagher’s team. Gal­lagher, a medic, be­gan treat­ing him.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.