The chief of Naval Operations dismissed charges Thursday against a Navy SEAL accused of covering up war crimes allegedly committed by fellow SEAL Edward Gallagher.
A military jury cleared Gallagher of murder and attempted murder charges at Naval Base San Diego last month.
Lt. Jacob Portier had been set to go to trial on charges that included dereliction of duty. A Navy statement issued Thursday said Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson had thrown out the case.
Portier was charged with allegedly destroying evidence and failing to report Gallagher, who was accused of fatally stabbing a teenage ISIS fighter. He was also suspected of indiscriminately shooting Iraqi civilians in Mosul.
The seven-man jury only convicted Gallagher, 40, of posing for a picture with the dead combatant’s body. The conviction resulted in a four-month prison sentence, which he’d already served, in addition to a drop in rank and reduction in pay.
Richardson also denied Navy prosecutors the authority to bring perjury charges against Petty Officer First Class Corey Scott, who testified at Gallagher’s trial that he had suffocated the fighter after Gallagher stabbed him.
Scott said he held down the boy’s breathing tube because he did not want him to suffer or be tortured by Iraqis.
The surprise testimony led to rumblings that Scott could be prosecuted. Yet Thursday’s statement from the Navy indicates that avenue has been closed.
The dismissal comes one day after President Donald Trump announced he was rescinding awards given to some of the Navy prosecutors who brought the case against Gallagher.
Three prosecutors in the case received Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medals for performing “above their normal duties,” according to military publication Task & Purpose.
In rescinding the awards, Trump cited allegations of misconduct brought against the prosecutors, who allegedly used tracking software to spy on the defense team’s email accounts.
Capt. Aaron Rugh, the judge overseeing Gallagher’s court martial, ordered that Gallagher be released from custody as a result of those findings.
The former lead prosecutor, Cmdr. Chris Czaplak, was also removed from the case weeks before Gallagher’s trial began at Naval Base San Diego.
– City News Service
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