Monday, March 29, 2010

Case against three Navy SEALS weakened

The courts martial case of three Navy SEALS accused of striking a most-wanted terror suspect after his capture in Iraq has been weakened by a recent military judge's ruling.  From The Washington Times:
Maj. Gen. Charles Cleveland last week signed grants of immunity for five Navy colleagues of the accused.

Some of those five, three enlisted men and two officers, are expected at trial to flatly contradict the prosecution's key witness, according to a Navy source close to the case, which centers on the September 2009 capture of Ahmed Hashim Abed.

The witness, the master-at-arms at the base in Anbar province where the captured terrorist was brought, told investigators that he saw Abed being struck by one SEAL. One of the immunized witnesses identified by the master-at-arms for corroboration is not expected to support his testimony. The military has not released witness statements.

In addition, the defense has requested that the judge order the government to turn over the name of the Army officer who interrogated Abed once he was brought to Baghdad, where he remains in custody on order of an Iraqi judge. The disclosure would mean that defense attorneys may call him as a witness to testify about Abed's appearance after he left the SEALs' custody.

A judge has ruled that the military must produce Abed as a witness for courts-martial, scheduled to be conducted in Baghdad perhaps as early as next month. Defense attorneys, in front of a military jury, can expose Abed's history as the suspected mastermind of the 2004 Fallujah atrocity that left the bodies of U.S. contractors hanging mutilated on a bridge.

The master-at-arms told investigators that Abed was punched in the gut by Special Operations Petty Officer 2nd Class Matthew McCabe. Petty Officer McCabe denies hitting Abed.

"We're pleased about the immunity grants," said Neal Puckett, Petty Officer McCabe's attorney. "They allow witnesses who have favorable testimony to testify."
Hopefully the testimony of these new witnesses will bring an end this long nightmare for these brave Navy SEALS.

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