Special Operations Chief Edward Gallagher, 39, a decorated career military veteran, faces trial on 10 June, in a case that has drawn the attention of US President Donald Trump, Reuters reported Monday.
Gallagher is charged with murdering a wounded Daesh militant in his custody, and with attempted murder for wounding two unarmed civilians — a school girl and an elderly man he allegedly shot from a sniper's perch.
Gallagher has pleaded not guilty to all charges, including obstructing justice in the case, which stems from his latest tour of duty in Mosul, Iraq, in 2017. If convicted, he could face life in prison, according to Reuters.
Gallagher said, cited by Reuters, he was wrongly accused and that fellow SEALs that had testified against him, some in exchange for immunity, are disgruntled subordinates who fabricated allegations to force him from command.
The abuses came to widespread public attention with the publication of photographs of the abuse in 2004. The incidents were widely condemned both in the United States and abroad. The administration of President George W. Bush asserted that these were isolated incidents and not indicative of general US policy. However, this was disputed by the Red Cross, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and other humanitarian bodies.
In 2014, the US Senate Select Committee on Intelligence concluded a 6,700-page report documenting an atrocious pattern of crimes the US government had committed, including torture in Iraq and Afghanistan. Nevertheless, no authorities under Presidents George W. Bush or Barack Obama have faced accountability.