Critics were outraged late Tuesday when the jury in the war crime trial of U.S. Navy SEAL Edward Gallagher found the decorated platoon leader not guilty of murdering a 15-year-old captive in Iraq in 2017.
The anti-war group About Face expressed deep frustration with the military justice system for favoring armed service members, regardless of the evidence against them.
— About Face: Veterans Against the War (@VetsAboutFace) July 2, 2019
Gallagher's acquittal followed the testimony of a medic, Corey Scott, who claimed to have killed the captive ISIS fighter himself, stunning prosecutors who had been told by multiple Navy SEALs that Gallagher had stabbed the boy.
Navy prosecutors are considering perjury charges against Scott, whose previous statements to the prosecution differed significantly from the story he told during the trial. Scott acknowledged that he wanted to help Gallagher go free when he testified that while he had seen the platoon leader stab the teenage captive in the neck, Scott had then killed him by covering his breathing tube.
Scott gave the testimony after being granted immunity by prosecutors.
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During the two-week trial, prosecutors presented multiple eyewitnesses who testified that Gallagher had stabbed the captive after he was brought to Gallagher for medical treatment.
The jury also saw a photo of the platoon leader posing with the teenager's body and a text message he had sent to his friends in the armed services reading, "Good story behind this, got him with my hunting knife.”
Both the prosecution and the defense described the picture Gallagher sent as a "trophy photo."
Despite the evidence of Gallagher's crimes, President Donald Trump intervened in the case, arranging in March for the Navy SEAL to be released from pre-trial confinement.
The photo resulted in Gallagher's only conviction; the longest sentence he may be given is four months in prison, but because he has already served nine months in pre-trial confinement, he walked free on Tuesday.
Gallagher was also found not guilty of attempting to murder and wounding two civilians when he shot them from a sniper post.