Jury chosen for Navy SEAL's war crimes
trial, opening arguments on Tuesday
Send a link to a friend
[June 18, 2019]
By Marty Graham
SAN DIEGO (Reuters) - Opening arguments are
set to begin on Tuesday in the trial of a U.S. Navy SEAL court-martialed
on charges of murdering a wounded Iraqi prisoner and shooting unarmed
civilians, a war crimes case that has drawn the attention of U.S.
President Donald Trump.
A jury was selected on Monday in the trial of Special Operations Chief
Edward Gallagher, City News Service and the Fox affiliate in San Diego
Gallagher, a 39-year-old career combat veteran, has denied all the
charges but could face life in prison if convicted in the trial arising
from his 2017 deployment to Mosul, Iraq.
The platoon leader is charged with murdering a wounded, helpless Islamic
State fighter in his custody by stabbing him in the neck, and with
attempted murder in the wounding of two civilians - a schoolgirl and an
elderly man - shot from a sniper's perch in Iraq.
He maintains that fellow SEAL team members in his platoon, who turned
him in and are testifying against him under grants of immunity, are
disgruntled subordinates who fabricated allegations to force him from
Details of the jury were not immediately available. A Navy spokesman
said on Monday between 5 and 15 jurors would be selected from a pool,
half of whom are officers and the other half enlisted men.
The proceedings in a military courthouse at U.S. Naval Base San Diego
are due to last three weeks.
The prosecution's case rests crucially on the SEAL team members'
testimony as there are no bodies or crime scenes from the Iraqi war
zone. Names and other details about the alleged crimes were not
The opening of the trial was postponed several times by a lengthy round
of proceedings to deal with defense allegations of prosecutorial
Gallagher's lawyers sought dismissal of the charges after learning that
Navy prosecutors had electronically tracked email communications of
defense lawyers without a warrant, ostensibly to pinpoint the source of
material leaked from sealed case files.
[to top of second column]
U.S. Navy SEAL Special Operations Chief Edward Gallagher leaves
court with his wife Andrea after the first day of jury selection at
the court-martial trial at Naval Base San Diego in San Diego,
California , U.S., June 17, 2019. REUTERS/Mike Blake
The presiding judge, a Navy captain, ultimately removed the lead
prosecutor from the case and freed Gallagher from pre-trial
The judge also granted defense lawyers a potentially valuable edge
in jury selection - the right to reject, with no reason given, two
more potential jurors than they otherwise could exclude through the
use of a peremptory challenge.
Before he was released from custody late last month, Gallagher had
been ordered restricted to base at the nearby Naval Medical Center
Trump said last month that he is considering pardons for a number of
military service members accused of war crimes, and Gallagher's case
was believed to be one of those under review.
The prospect of presidential clemency seemed heightened by last
month's appointment to Gallagher's defense team of Marc Mukasey, one
of Trump's personal lawyers.
Gallagher's lead civilian attorney, Timothy Parlatore, has said his
client has not sought a pardon.
(Reporting by Marty Graham in San Diego; Writing and additional
reporting by Steve Gorman and Rich McKay; editing by Darren
[© 2019 Thomson Reuters. All rights
Copyright 2019 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published,
broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Thompson Reuters is solely responsible for this content.