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Immunity granted to seven SEALs in war crimes case

Published: February 11, 2019
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Source: Navy Times

The U.S. Attorney’s office has granted testimonial immunity to seven SEALs tied to the war crimes case against Chief Special Warfare Operator Edward “Eddie” Gallagher, who is accused of executing a wounded Islamic State prisoner in Iraq in 2017.

As cooperating witnesses for a general court-martial convened by Navy Region Southwest commander Rear Adm. Yancy B."Lurch" Lindsey, they already had been sheltered from any future criminal charges that could be brought under the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

In exchange for sworn testimony against Gallagher, the U.S. Department of Justice in Washington, D.C., has now extended that immunity to potential prosecution in civilian federal court.

“DOJ immunity is neutral for the defense and the prosecution,” said Navy Region Southwest spokesman Brian O’Rourke. “It just means that it affords witnesses the chance for them to give their testimony unfettered.”

A large dossier of investigative and legal files provided to Navy Times revealed Friday that several SEALs have sought both testimonial and transactional immunity.

While testimonial immunity would protect these SEALs on the witness stand from being charged for crimes they admit under oath to committing, it doesn’t necessarily shield them from the testimony of others who also provide evidence in a courtroom.

For example, a SEAL might concede that he violated a law in his testimony but still could be prosecuted because of the sworn statements of fellow witnesses or other corroborating evidence that was obtained independently from his his words in court.

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