War crimes murder trial of Navy SEAL due to start in San Diego

SAN DIEGO (Reuters) – Jury selection was set to begin on Monday in the trial of a U.S. Navy SEAL platoon leader court-martialed on charges of murdering a wounded Iraqi prisoner and shooting unarmed civilians, a war crimes case that has drawn the attention of U.S. President Donald Trump.

Special Operations Chief Edward Gallagher, a decorated career combat veteran, has denied all the charges and says he is wrongly accused. He could face life in prison if convicted in the trial arising from his 2017 deployment to Mosul, Iraq.

The proceedings in a military courthouse at U.S. Naval Base San Diego are due to last three weeks, starting with the selection of between five and 15 active-duty Navy officers and enlisted personnel to hear the case and render a verdict. Empanelling the jury is expected to take one or two days.

The opening of the trial was postponed several times by a lengthy round of proceedings to deal with defence allegations of prosecutorial misconduct.

Gallagher’s lawyers sought dismissal of the charges after learning that Navy prosecutors had electronically tracked email communications of defence lawyers without a warrant, ostensibly to pinpoint the source of material leaked from sealed case files.

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