Viernes, 07 de mayo de 2010

Jury finds SEAL not guilty in assault case

By Larry O’Dell - The Associated Press
Posted : Friday May 7, 2010 11:08:05 EDT

NORFOLK, Va. — The last of three Navy SEALs accused of abusing a suspected Iraqi terrorist was found not guilty Thursday by a military jury.

Jurors deliberated about an hour and 40 minutes before returning their verdict in the court-martial of Special Warfare Operator 2nd Class (SEAL) Matthew McCabe.

“This feels amazing and great,” McCabe told reporters after the verdict. “I’m just grateful all of us came out not guilty and justice was served.”

McCabe was accused of punching Ahmed Hashim Abed in the stomach shortly after his capture in September in Iraq. The other two SEALs, who were accused of failing to protect Abed, were acquitted in trials last month in Baghdad.

Abed is suspected of plotting the 2004 slayings of four U.S. contractors in Fallujah. The bodies were dragged through the streets, burned and strung up from a bridge. He also is accused of crimes against Iraqis.

The SEALs received an outpouring of support from the public on the Internet, and at least 20 members of Congress urged Secretary of Defense Robert Gates to put a stop to the prosecution. Some critics said the prosecution was an overreaction to the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse scandal.

But one of McCabe’s lawyers, Haytham Faraj, said that “going ahead with all three courts-martial was really a good idea.”

“No terrorist organization can claim that the American military didn’t press forward and really investigate,” Faraj said.

The military officer who ordered the court martial defended his decision.

“I allowed these charges to go forward because I truly believed that the best process known for uncovering the truth, when the facts are contested, is that process which is found in our adversarial justice system,” said Army Maj. Gen. Charles Cleveland, commander of Special Operations Command Central.

Military prosecutors were not available for comment after the verdict, which came at the end of a four-day trial. Jurors heard audio taped testimony from Abed, who claimed he was blindfolded, handcuffed, beaten and kicked.

McCabe, 24, of Perrysburg, Ohio, showed little emotion when the verdict was read by the leader of the seven-member jury at Naval Station Norfolk, but he smiled broadly and embraced his four defense attorneys one by one after court was adjourned.

McCabe’s father said he did not believe the case should have been prosecuted.

“These are the guys that preserve the American dream,” said Martin McCabe of Las Vegas.

The sailor who was responsible for guarding Abed, Petty Officer 3rd Class Kevin DeMartino, testified that he saw McCabe deliver a right cross to Abed’s midsection while two other SEALs stood by and did nothing.

However, several witnesses — including SEALs and intelligence officers who cannot be publicly identified — contradicted portions of DeMartino’s testimony as the defense tried to discredit him. They also depicted DeMartino as emotionally unstable and unhappy with his deployment.

A Navy prosecutor said in closing arguments that SEALs were trying to protect one of their own.

“They circled the wagons,” Lt. Cmdr. Jason Grover said. “They don’t want Petty Officer McCabe to be held responsible for this.”

Faraj said that was untrue.

“Everybody has to be lying for the government’s case to be believed,” he told the jury.

McCabe’s trial was held in Virginia, where his SEAL team is based, because unlike the other two SEALs he did not insist on confronting his accuser in court. He could have received up to a year in jail if convicted.

Related reading

SEAL jury hears tape of assault accuser

Jury is seated in SEAL’s court-martial

Jury selection on agenda for SEAL trial

SEAL accused of hitting Iraqi faces trial

Tags: obama seal McCabe

Publicado por Corazon7 @ 14:30
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