Navy SEAL Found Not Guilty of Murder in Death of ISIS Prisoner in Iraq

July 2, 2019 Updated: July 2, 2019

A military jury acquitted a decorated Navy SEAL of premeditated murder on July 2 in the killing of a wounded ISIS captive under his care in Iraq in 2017.

The jury also found Special Operations Chief Edward Gallagher not guilty of all other counts except for the violation of posing for photographs with a dead war casualty.

Gallagher reacted with “tears of joy, emotion, freedom and absolute euphoria,” defense lawyer Marc Mukasey said.

“Suffice it to say this is a huge victory,” Mukasey said outside court. “It’s a huge weight off the Gallaghers.”

Defense lawyers said Gallagher was framed by disgruntled platoon members who fabricated the allegations to oust their chief. They said there was no physical evidence to support the allegations.

SEAL Andrea Gallagher
Navy SEAL Edward Gallagher. (Andrea and Edward Gallagher/File Photo via AP)

A panel of jurors is made up of five Marines and two sailors, including a SEAL, many of whom had been in heavy combat in Iraq. The panel returned to deliberations Tuesday, a day after closing arguments wrapped up at the court-martial of Edward Gallagher.

Gallagher has pleaded not guilty to seven charges. The other charges include violations for posing with a human casualty and for allegedly retaliating against SEALs who reported him.

A military prosecutor asserted the proof of Gallagher’s guilt is his own words, his own photos and the testimony of his fellow troops. Defense lawyers called the case a “mutiny” by entitled, junior SEALs trying to oust a demanding chief.

Gallagher is accused of fatally stabbing the adolescent captive while he was under his care in Iraq in 2017 and to shooting civilians. He has pleaded not guilty to murder and attempted murder.

An Iraqi general who handed the wounded prisoner to the SEALs testified that Gallagher did not stab the boy. And Marine Staff Sgt. Giorgio Kirylo said after the boy died that he moved the body to take a “cool guy trophy” photo with it and saw no stab wounds on his neck.

He said each member of the platoon took turns posing with the body, and no one was upset.

He said the platoon members took turns taking photos with the body because they were excited that they had coordinated an air strike with Iraqi troops that had killed ISIS terrorists including the captive’s commander.

“This was our unofficial war trophy,” the Marine Raider said.

Gallagher’s attorneys said there were a number of things that could have caused the militant’s death, including internal injuries from the blast.

The trial followed months of turmoil in one of the Navy’s most prominent war cases, including the removal of the Navy’s lead prosecutor after it was discovered the prosecution had tracked the emails of the defense team to find a news leak. The judge in response to that lowered the maximum sentence Gallagher could face for premeditated murder to life in prison with parole, instead of without parole.

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