LOS ANGELES: The trial of an elite US Navy SEAL accused of shooting unarmed civilians and stabbing a teenage captive to death in Iraq began on Monday at a military court in California, reports AFP.
Special Operations Chief Edward Gallagher, 40, is charged with several war crimes including premeditated murder, attempted murder of two civilians with his sniper rifle and obstruction of justice. His alleged acts in Iraq in 2017 were reported by men under his own command in the special operations branch of the US Navy.They were among American troops deployed to Mosul, in northern Iraq, alongside Iraqi forces battling the Islamic State group for control of the city. Gallagher, a decorated veteran of combat missions in Iraq and Afghanistan, faces life imprisonment if convicted by the San Diego court.
He denies all the charges against him.
His lawyers claim he is the victim of a “cabal” who plotted against him in order to remove him from the platoon.
According to statements read at a preliminary hearing last year, some members of the “Alpha” platoon were so horrified by Gallagher’s behavior that they tampered with his sniper rifle and fired warning shots to scare civilians away before he had time to open fire on them.