Two Navy SEALs accused in the mistreatment of an Iraqi detainee should be tried at the U.S. base in Iraq where the alleged victim is being held, a military judge ruled Monday.
RICHMOND, Va. — Two Navy SEALs accused in the mistreatment of an Iraqi detainee should be tried at the U.S. base in Iraq where the alleged victim is being held, a military judge ruled Monday.
Cmdr. Tierney Carlos moved the trials after government prosecutors said they would make the detainee available for deposition at Camp Victory in Baghdad but would not bring him to Naval Station Norfolk to testify. The judge ruled that Petty Officer 2nd Class Jonathan Keefe, of Yorktown, Va., and Petty Officer 1st Class Julio Huertas, of Blue Island, Ill., have a right to face their accuser in open court.
A hearing for a third defendant, Petty Officer 2nd Class Matthew McCabe, of Perrysburg, Ohio, is tentatively set for Wednesday before a different judge.
McCabe is accused of punching Ahmed Hashim Abed, the suspected mastermind of a 2004 ambush that killed four U.S. security contractors in Fallujah. The contractors’ bodies were dragged through the streets and hung from a bridge.
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McCabe and the other two SEALs also are charged with dereliction of duty for failing to protect the detainee, and with lying to investigators. Huertas also is charged with impeding the investigation.
The SEALs have received an outpouring of support from people who consider them heroes for capturing Abed. Several members of Congress have asked that the charges be dropped, and more than 100,000 people have joined a Facebook page created to support the SEALs.
Military officials originally wanted to handle the case through a process known as “nonjudicial punishment,” but the SEALs insisted on going to trial in an effort to clear their names and save their careers.
If convicted by a six-person military jury, they could face up to a year in jail, a bad conduct discharge or loss of pay.
killed, 1 kidnapped
BAGHDAD — An election worker has been killed and another one kidnapped over the last two weeks, a senior Iraqi election official said Monday, in a worrying sign of the dangers facing election workers as the country’s March 7 parliamentary election draws closer.
Hamdia al-Hussaini, a commissioner on the Independent High Electoral Commission, said the employees are believed to have been targeted because they worked for the election commission.
The nationwide election will decide who will lead the country for the next four years as U.S. forces, in Iraq since 2003, draw down, with combat forces leaving by the end of August and the rest by the end of 2011.
Election workers were targeted by insurgents ahead of three nationwide votes in 2005 — two general elections — in January and December — and a referendum on a new constitution in October.
Al-Hussaini said the commission is increasing the number of polling places so that people don’t have as far to travel — an important factor since the government may impose a vehicle ban on election day as it had done in the past.
The commission has also sent a delegation to China to supervise the manufacture of a special type of ink that won’t wear off easily. Once people have voted, they dip a finger in ink as a way of preventing them from casting duplicate ballots.