A six-man jury determined the Navy SEAL, Petty Officer 1st Class not guilty of "dereliction of duty and attempting to influence the testimony of another service member."
Three other SEALs are also charged with dereliction of duty in the case involving suspected abuse of an Iraqi prisoner. The prisoner is believed to be the mastermind of the ambush that killed four Blackwater private security guards, two of whom were former SEALs, as they travelled through Baghdad in 2004. Their bodies were burned and two were hung from a bridge over the Euphrates River as civilians danced around in celebration and children poked at the desecrated bodies.
Military.com reports the AP story:
BAGHDAD -- A U.S. military jury cleared a Navy SEAL Thursday of failing to prevent the beating of an Iraqi prisoner suspected of masterminding a 2004 attack that killed four American security contractors.The courts-martial was unnecessary because the three SEALs could have received only a reprimand in their personel files, but they insisted upon a military trial to clear their names.
The contractors' burned bodies were dragged through the streets and two were hanged from a bridge over the Euphrates river in the former insurgent hotbed of Fallujah, in what became a major turning point in the Iraq war.
The Iraqi prisoner who was allegedly abused, Ahmed Hashim Abed, testified Wednesday on the opening day of the trial at the U.S. military's Camp Victory on Baghdad's western outskirts that he was beaten by U.S. troops while hooded and tied to a chair.
Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class Kevin DeMartino, who was assigned to process and transport the prisoner and is not a SEAL, testified he saw one SEAL punch the prisoner in the stomach and watched blood spurt from his mouth. Huertas and the third SEAL were in the narrow holding-room at the time of the incident, he added.
But defense attorneys tried to cast doubt on the beating claims, showing photographs of Abed after the alleged beating in which he had a visible cut inside his lip but no obvious signs of bruising or injuries anywhere else.
In her closing arguments, Huertas' civilian attorney Monica Lombardi pointed to inconsistencies between DeMartino's testimony and nearly every other Navy witness. She also reminded the jury of the terrorism charges against Abed, who is in Iraqi custody and has not yet been tried, saying he could not be trusted and may have inflicted wounds on himself as a way of recasting blame on American troops.
The life of Indigo Red is full of adventure. Tune in next time for the Further Adventures of Indigo Red.