Sun, Jan 06, 2019 - Page 5 News List

US Navy SEAL pleads not guilty to killing IS teen

OFF THE RAILS:Fellow navy SEALs said Edward Gallagher fired into crowds of Iraqi civilians, and shot an old man carting water and a girl walking along a riverbank

AP, SAN DIEGO, California

A decorated US Navy SEAL on Friday pleaded not guilty to charges of premeditated murder and other crimes in the stabbing death of a teenage Islamic State (IS) prisoner in Iraq last year and the shooting of unarmed Iraqi civilians.

US Special Operations Chief Edward Gallagher is to stand trial between Feb. 19 and March 1 before a jury that is to be one-third enlisted personnel.

Gallagher has been jailed since his arrest on Sept. 11 and a judge said he would determine next week whether the 19-year navy veteran should be released before the trial.

The case stands out because of the seriousness of the allegations against an elite special warfare operator and because prosecutors’ case includes the accounts of fellow navy SEALs, an extremely tight-knit group even by military standards.

At Friday’s arraignment, prosecutors handed over 1,700 pages of documents, including text messages they say show Gallagher trying to intimidate witnesses.

His attorney, Phil Stackhouse, dismissed them as “hearsay and double hearsay statements.”

Stackhouse said his client is being falsely accused by disgruntled SEALs who wanted to get rid of a demanding platoon leader.

Navy prosecutors have painted a picture of a highly trained fighter and medic going off the rails on his eighth deployment, indiscriminately shooting at Iraqi civilians and stabbing to death a captured IS fighter estimated to be 15 years old, then posing with his corpse at his re-enlistment ceremony.

If convicted, Gallagher, who was awarded the Bronze Star twice, faces life in prison.

At a two-day preliminary hearing at the navy base in November, investigators said Gallagher stabbed the teen in the neck and body with a knife after he was handed over to the SEALs in Mosul to be treated for wounds sustained by the Iraqi Army and its prisoners during an airstrike in May 2017.

US Naval Criminal Investigative Service Special Agent Joe Warpinski told the court that a SEAL medic told him he believed he had just stabilized the teen when Gallagher “walked up without saying anything at all” and started stabbing him.

Afterward, prosecutors said he took photographs of himself with the corpse, holding up his knife in one hand and propping up the body by holding the head with his other hand.

He also posed with the body during his re-enlistment ceremony captured in the footage, Warpinski said.

When another SEAL questioned Gallagher, he replied: “I was working on him, and he just died,” Warpinski said.

Gallagher’s attorney told the court that the teen died from injuries from the airstrike.

Warpinski, who spoke to nine members of SEAL Team 7, said that he was told Gallagher would fire into crowds of Iraqis.

He is accused of shooting an elderly man carting a water jug in Mosul in June 2017 and a girl walking along a riverbank in the same area a month later.

Investigators told the court that Gallagher had threatened to publicly name fellow SEALs if they reported his actions.

Some SEALs were so concerned that they did not tell him his sniper rifle settings were off so his shooting would be less accurate and they would fire warning shots to clear away civilians, Warpinski said.

This story has been viewed 2321 times.

Comments will be moderated. Keep comments relevant to the article. Remarks containing abusive and obscene language, personal attacks of any kind or promotion will be removed and the user banned. Final decision will be at the discretion of the Taipei Times.

TOP top