US Navy SEAL murder trial witness claims he is the real killer

US Navy SEAL Special Operations Chief Edward Gallagher, charged with war crimes in Iraq, is shown in this undated photo provided May 24, 2019. (Courtesy Andrea Gallagher/Handout via REUTERS)
Updated 21 June 2019

US Navy SEAL murder trial witness claims he is the real killer

  • Medic Corey Scott claimed he killed the Daesh fighter after seeing his commander stab the victim with a knife
  • The commander, Special Operations Chief Edward Gallagher, is being court-martialed killing the prisoner

LOS ANGELES: A witness in the court-martial trial of a decorated US Navy SEAL charged with killing a captive teenage militant while deployed to Iraq confessed on Thursday that it was he — not the defendant — who put an end to the boy’s life.
Corey Scott, a first class petty officer, told the military court in San Diego that while he had seen Special Operations Chief Edward Gallagher stab the wounded Daesh group fighter in the neck in May 2017, he had killed the boy afterwards.
He testified that he covered the victim’s breathing tube with his thumb and then watched him die.
Scott said he did so to spare the boy — who prosecutors say was about 15 years old — from suffering or being tortured by Iraqi forces.
His bombshell testimony threw a wrench in the prosecution’s murder and attempted murder case against Gallagher, who was supposed to be providing medical treatment for the insurgent when he allegedly stabbed him.
Gallagher, 40, has denied the charges against him, claiming they were made up by disgruntled subordinates under his command.
Prosecutors on Thursday argued that Scott’s version of events was a fabrication and that he was lying to protect Gallagher.
Scott, who has been given immunity from prosecution, acknowledged during questioning that he made the revelation to spare Gallagher, who is married and has children, from going to prison.
Local news reports said Gallagher appeared jubilant following Scott’s testimony, celebrating with his family outside the courtroom.
The charges against Gallagher, who is also accused of shooting two civilians and firing indiscriminately at other non-combatants while in Iraq, stem from testimony by men who were under his command in the special operations branch of the US Navy.
According to court documents, 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.
They told investigators that Gallagher, who began his career as a medic, would brag about the number of people he had killed.
One platoon mate who testified on Wednesday said he saw Gallagher fatally stab the teenage Daesh militant. Gallagher allegedly then posed with the boy’s body for photographs and texted the pictures to fellow SEALs.
“Good story behind this one,” one text message read, according to prosecutors. “Got him with my hunting knife.”
When some of the other SEALs expressed reservations over the killing, prosecutors say Gallagher’s response was: “I thought everyone would be cool with it. Next time it happens, I’ll do it somewhere where you can’t see.”
Gallagher also stands accused of attempted murder for the wounding of two civilians, a schoolgirl and an elderly man, who were shot while walking along the Tigris River.
The case has proven divisive in the US, where he remains a war hero to some.
His cause has been championed by around 40 Republican members of Congress, as well as the Fox News channel, which is popular among conservatives.
President Donald Trump last month also expressed support for Gallagher and hinted that he may be pardoned along with other military service members accused of war crimes.
The trial, which began on Monday, is expected to last up to three weeks.
If convicted, Gallagher faces up to life in prison.


Philippines’ Duterte threatens to end military deal with the United States

Updated 56 min ago

Philippines’ Duterte threatens to end military deal with the United States

  • Duterte vented his anger over the US decision to deny entry to Ronaldo dela Rosa
  • US embassy in the Philippines did not explain why his visa had been canceled

MANILA: Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte warned the United States on Thursday he would repeal an agreement on deployment of troops and equipment for exercises if Washington did not reinstate the visa of a political ally.
Visibly upset, Duterte vented his anger over the US decision to deny entry to Ronaldo dela Rosa, a former police chief who is now a senator.
Dela Rosa said the US embassy in the Philippines did not explain why his visa had been canceled but that he believed it was most likely because of allegations of extrajudicial killings during his more than two-year term as police chief.
Dela Rosa was the chief enforcer of Duterte’s anti-narcotics crackdown, which has resulted in deaths of more than 5,000 people, mostly small-time drug dealers. Police say victims were shot by officers in self-defense.
“If you do not do the correction, one, I will terminate the bases, the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA),” Duterte said in a wide-ranging speech before former Communist rebels. “I am giving the government and the American government one month from now.”
The Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), signed in 1998, accorded legal status to thousands of US troops who were rotated in the country for military exercises and humanitarian assistance operations.
Delfin Lorezana, Duterte’s defense minister, declined to comment when asked if he agreed with the president’s plan.
Duterte makes no secret of his disdain for the United States and what he considers its hypocrisy and interference, though he acknowledges that most Filipinos and his military have high regard for their country’s former colonial ruler.
The United States is the Philippines’ biggest defense ally and millions of Filipinos have relatives who are US citizens.
Last month, Duterte banned US senators Richard Durbin and Patrick Leahy from visiting the Philippines after they introduced a provision in the US Congress.
The provision calls the ban on US entry to anyone involved in locking up Philippine senator Leila de Lima, a former justice minister and Duterte’s top critic who was jailed in 2017 on drug charges after leading an investigation into thousands of deaths during the anti-narcotics campaign.
She has won numerous awards from human rights groups, which consider her a prisoner of conscience.
The US Embassy in Manila could not immediately be reached for comment outside office hours.