7 Navy SEALs Granted Immunity To Testify On Fellow SEAL's Alleged Multiple War Crimes In Iraq

news
A Navy SEAL Is Accused Of Committing War Crimes In Iraq

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

The 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 ISIS 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 incident 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 NCIS investigators that Gallagher bragged about 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 cell phones 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. NCIS interrogators asked him to use his fingerprints to unlock his phone, he said, and investigators watched Gallagher enter his pass code, which they then 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 ISIS 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, Iraqi forces loaded the combatant onto the hood of a Humvee and delivered him to Gallagher's team. Gallagher, a medic, began treating him.

Prosecutors say Gallagher stabbed the fighter, estimated to be between 15 and 17 years old. Gallagher also is accused of posing for photos with the corpse, operating a drone over it and, sometime later, celebrating his reenlistment next to it.

The defense, which consisted of six lawyers Friday, said their witnesses will testify that the fighter was either already mortally wounded when he was brought to Gallagher or he was alive when Gallagher left the scene.

There was at least one witness who said the fighter's injuries were not that serious before Gallagher treated him.

In unrelated incidents, Gallagher is charged with shooting two civilians — an old man and a little girl — and with shooting indiscriminately at civilians throughout his deployment.

One witness told investigators Gallagher told him it was "OK to shoot at women."

Information leaks have been an issue in this case. The judge reimposed a protective order after the prosecution complained that a leak to the Navy Times led to publication of an NCIS agent's name; the agent had to be pulled from the field.

"Neither side is supposed to try their case in the media," said Commander Chris Czaplak, the Navy's lead prosecutor.

It was unclear when the judge will rule on other motions in the case.

———

©2019 The San Diego Union-Tribune. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

SEE ALSO: 'I Got Him With My Hunting Knife': SEAL Allegedly Texted Photo Cradling ISIS Fighter's Head

WATCH NEXT: A Badass 'Inside SWCC' Recruiting Video

The last time the world saw Marine veteran Austin Tice, he had been taken prisoner by armed men. It was unclear whether his captors were jihadists or allies of Syrian dictator Bashar al Assad who were disguised as Islamic radicals.

Blindfolded and nearly out of breath, Tice spoke in Arabic before breaking into English:"Oh Jesus. Oh Jesus."

That was from a video posted on YouTube on Sept. 26, 2012, several weeks after Tice went missing near Damascus, Syria, while working as a freelance journalist for McClatchy and the Washington Post.

Now that Tice has been held in captivity for more than seven years, reporters who have regular access to President Donald Trump need to start asking him how he is going to bring Tice home.

Read More Show Less

"Shoots like a carbine, holsters like a pistol." That's the pitch behind the new Flux Defense system designed to transform the Army's brand new sidearm into a personal defense weapon.

Read More Show Less

Sometimes a joke just doesn't work.

For example, the Defense Visual Information Distribution Service tweeted and subsequently deleted a Gilbert Gottfried-esque misfire about the "Storm Area 51" movement.

On Friday DVIDSHUB tweeted a picture of a B-2 bomber on the flight line with a formation of airmen in front of it along with the caption: "The last thing #Millenials will see if they attempt the #area51raid today."

Read More Show Less
Guided-missile destroyer USS Stethem (DDG 63) Sailors participate in a memorial for the shipÕs namesake, Robert D. Stethem. Navy diver, Steelworker 2nd Class Robert Stethem, who was returning from an assignment in the Middle East, when he was taken hostage aboard TWA 847 commercial airliner. The flight was hijacked by terrorists, and Stethem was shot to death after being tortured by the terrorists on June 15, 1985. (U.S. Navy photo by Ensign Danny Ewing Jr.)

ATHENS (Reuters) - Greek police have arrested a 65-year-old Lebanese man suspected of involvement in the 1985 hijacking of a Trans World Airlines (TWA) plane in which a U.S. navy diver was killed.

A Greek police official said on Saturday the suspect had disembarked from a cruise ship on the island of Mykonos on Thursday and that his name came up as being wanted by German authorities.

Read More Show Less
U.S. Army recruits practice patrol tactics while marching during U.S. Army basic training at Fort Jackson, S.C., Dec. 6, 2006. (U.S. Air Force/Staff Sgt. Shawn Weismiller)

An 18-year-old Army recruit at Fort Jackson died following a "medical emergency" before a training drill, according to an officials with the base.

Read More Show Less