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Trial Set For Navy SEAL In Islamic State Prisoner’s Killing

 June 17, 2019 at 10:56 AM PDT

Speaker 1: 00:00 The trial of a decorated navy seal accused of war crimes during our 2017 deployment to Iraq got underway in San Diego today. Special Operations Chief Edward Gallagher has pleaded not guilty to premeditated murder for allegedly stabbing an isis fighter in his care and attempted murder in the shooting of two civilians. The trial follows months of speculation and debate over whether Gallagher's should be allowed to retire as quote a modern day war hero as his brother describes him or face life in prison for murder. You're in studio. To bring us up to date is Steve Walsh gave UBS military reporter. Thanks for joining US Steve. So after all these months of delay, what can we expect as the trial and volts this week? Speaker 2: 00:44 So all of this has been preamble. Up until this point, we've had, uh, the president, uh, intervening or, or, uh, alleged to have intervene talking about pardoning Eddie Gallagher, along with other people that have been accused of war crimes. We've had allegations by the defense that the prosecutors were spying them by sending these email trackers to them to try to identify the source of leaks in the case media leaks. And there have been a hundreds of pages of documents leaked in this case. But all of that is preamble now the trial begins. So there are seven seals who were set to testify in this case against their, their commander at a Gallagher. Speaker 1: 01:25 Do we know anything about those seals? Speaker 2: 01:27 Well, they are undercover as a seals are. We know that it took almost a year before this, these charges surfaces and the investigation began into um, these alleged war crimes by Eddie Gallagher. Uh, we know that, um, they have been granted immunity to testify against him. There has been, uh, the defense has though they have been saying all along that some of these seals are beginning to change their stories and that they may not say what prosecutors expect them to say. Speaker 1: 01:58 What kind of evidence are prosecutors expecting to be made public at this trial? Speaker 2: 02:02 So what he's accused of doing is killing a wounded teenage isis fighter in his custody. There is a a photograph of him posing with the body. There is a text that where he says basically I got in with my hunting knife. Uh, and then we're going to see in the next couple of days while starting probably at about Wednesday after opening arguments, we are going to start seeing these seals testified. This first week is going to be the bulk of prosecutor's case against Lee Gallagher. So after all of this preamble, we're going to really hear what these seals have to say. Speaker 1: 02:36 So the jury is being selected today and uh, the, the military court Marshall Process does differ from the civilian criminal court process. Right? Speaker 2: 02:44 There are a couple of different things that are different from military court and civilian court. There's something called a convening authority, which is basically the commander for naval base San Diego that that person decides whether or not somebody is actually going go to court marshal. I'm, that person could also decided to dismiss this case entirely if they want to. And yes, the, this will be a jury that is made up of, of, of officers. And because Gatto Gallagher is an enlisted person also about a third of the panel will be enlisted members. Speaker 1: 03:18 So now the military judge has already reduced the possible sentence that Gallagher faces if found guilty, tell us what does he face now and, and why did the judge reduced that penalty? Speaker 2: 03:27 So it was reduced because of these allegations of spine, this email tracker that was sent to the defense and to Carl [inaudible], the reporter at Navy Times. So because of the, these allegations were proved true that this in fact did happen. They removed the prosecutor, Christopher Chap Black, he was the one who actually sent these email trackers to the defense team. And the judge then I was further mitigation before trial allowed Eddie Gallagher to go free to help aid in his own defense. And, and one of the last things he did before seeing that the trial will continue is that he decided that he, the death penalty would no longer be part of this case. So he faces life imprisonment for these charges Speaker 1: 04:11 and he also dismissed the prosecution. Right? Speaker 2: 04:15 Indeed. He dismiss Christopher Chaplain. He was determined to be the one who had actually sent the uh, the email trackers and that he had worked with MCIs to actually create the email tracker that he sent out all part of this leak investigation. They've replaced them with the new prosecutor, a commander Jeff, and I hope I have this name pronounced correctly. Pastrick Uhh, he replaced chap black. Uh, there was a junior prosecutor that was in there with chap black and he remains on the case. So they really only delayed it just a little while longer, but it seems to be full steam ahead. Speaker 1: 04:50 How much of a handicap do you think that would be the prosecution that they were replaced as soon before the, Speaker 2: 04:55 well, you have to imagine this case has been going on. I mean, originally Gallagher was taken into custody on September 11, the 2018 the investigation had been going on long before that and now just a few weeks before trial, your lead prosecutor has been removed. I would imagine that would be a somewhat of a handicap. Speaker 1: 05:13 Any sense of how long this trial is expected to last year? Speaker 2: 05:16 Yes, indeed. Indeed. So we actually know that the judge wants this to wrap up by July 5th. He's, he's ex, he expects this to take three weeks and then after that it will go to the jury. But, uh, as I was saying earlier that this week is going to be significant, that not only will there be opening arguments going on, but that all of these seals are expected to testify. So by the end of this week, we should have a very good idea. We've, there's been a tremendous amount of media speculation all the way up to the president. Uh, we are going to know what those seals say in court soon. Speaker 1: 05:50 Thanks for the update. Steam. Thanks Alison. That's KBPS military reporter Steve Walsh, who is going to be covering the trial. Thanks. Speaker 3: 05:57 Ah.

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The trial of a decorated Navy SEAL charged with killing an Islamic State prisoner in his care is set to begin Monday following months of turmoil in one of the Navy's most prominent war crimes cases.
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