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The Crossroads of Special Operations

Thursday, June 24, 2021
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7 SEALs granted immunity in Iraq war crimes prosecutions

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

The hearing Friday 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 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.

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