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Trump congratulates navy Seal who committed war crime with dead body: ‘Glad I could help!’

Edward Gallagher convicted of unlawfully posing for pictures with the detainee’s dead body

Adam Forrest
Wednesday 03 July 2019 17:36 BST
Defense attorney gives statement during navy Seal Edward Gallagher's murder trial

Donald Trump has congratulated the decorated navy Seal who was acquitted of murder in the killing of a wounded Isis captive in Iraq in 2017.

On Tuesday, Special Operations Chief Edward Gallagher was convicted of unlawfully posing for pictures with the teenage detainee’s dead body.

A jury also cleared him of attempted murder, and all other charges, in the shootings of two civilians.

Mr Trump, who intervened earlier this year to have Gallagher moved from the brig to less restrictive confinement, tweeted his best wishes to the navy Seal and his family.

“Congratulations to navy Seal Eddie Gallagher, his wonderful wife Andrea, and his entire family. You have been through much together. Glad I could help!” the president wrote.

On Wednesday was sentenced to a demotion in rank and pay for posing with the 17-year-old militant’s corpse.

That offence, stemming from photos he took with the corpse of the Iraqi prisoner whom Gallagher was whom was acquitted of slaying, carries a maximum sentence of four months’ imprisonment.

He was spared, however, from any more prison time beyond the nearly seven months he had already served in pre-trial custody. He will receive a one-step demotion in his rank from chief petty officer to petty officer first class, and a two-month forfeiture of his salary – a sum of nearly $5,400 (£4,300).

After the verdict was read on Tuesday, the defence attorneys jumped up from their seats as Gallagher turned and embraced his wife over the bar of the gallery.

Asked in an interview on Fox News what his message might be to future navy Seals, Gallagher said he would tell them that “loyalty is a trait that seems to be lost ... You’re there to watch your brother’s back, and he’s there to watch your back.”

Gallagher also thanked Fox News “for being behind us from day one”, and also thanked Mr Trump, along with Republican congressmen Duncan Hunter and Ralph Norman.

Dressed in his navy whites sporting a chest full of medals, he told reporters outside court he was happy and thankful. “I thank God, and my legal team and my wife,” he said.

Gallagher, who did not testify in his own defence, insisted that disgruntled subordinates with no prior battlefield experience fabricated allegations against him over grievances with his leadership style and tactics.

The chief petty officer was arrested in 2018, more than a year after returning from his eighth overseas deployment in Mosul in northern Iraq.

The war crimes trial saw him found guilty of posing for unofficial pictures with a human casualty – a violation of the US Uniform Code of Military Justice.

The obligation to take all possible measures to prevent the dead from being “despoiled (or pillaged)” was first codified in the 1907 Hague Convention, and is also now codified in the Geneva Conventions.

Additional reporting by agencies

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