Photo courtesy of Petty Officer 1st Class Abe McNatt

Military judge denies request to release SEAL facing murder charges from brig

January 11, 2019 - 7:27 am
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A military judge on Thursday denied a request to release a Navy SEAL awaiting trial on charges of premeditated murder and other offenses in relation to the death of an Islamic State prisoner and the shooting of unarmed Iraqi civilians.

The Navy did not release details on the written ruling by the judge, Navy Capt. Aaron Rugh.

Special Operations Chief Edward Gallagher, 39, has been in the brig since his September arrest. He is scheduled to stand trial Feb. 19. He has denied all the charges.

His lawyers had argued in making the request that Gallagher looks forward to his trial to clear his name and is not a flight risk. They could not be immediately reached for comment.

Gallagher is accused of fatally stabbing the teenage Islamic State prisoner in his care in Iraq in 2017. He also has been charged with opening fire on crowds of civilians and shooting two civilians, a girl and an elderly man, during separate incidents on the same deployment.

Prosecutors say he posed with the prisoner’s corpse, including at his re-enlistment ceremony on the battlefield. They had asked that he not be released because of the seriousness of the charges. They also say Gallagher intimidated witnesses in the case.

Gallagher’s lawyers say their client did not murder anyone and that disgruntled SEALs made the accusations because they wanted to get rid of a demanding platoon leader.

California Republican Congressman Duncan Hunter, a Marine combat veteran, called for Gallagher’s release after visiting him in the brig at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar this week.

Hunter has written a letter asking President Donald Trump to intervene in the case. Hunter said Gallagher, who has numerous awards including two Bronze stars, deserves better than to be jailed before standing trial.

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