A Navy SEAL has shocked a murder trial by claiming he was behind the death of a wounded militant – not his commanding officer.
Special Operator 1st Class Corey Scott had been called by prosecutors to testify at the murder trial of his decorated comrade Special Operations Chief Edward Gallagher.
The alleged victim was an Islamic State fighter who had been wounded during fighting in the Iraqi city of Mosul in 2017.
He had been captured by Iraqi forces and then handed to the Americans, according to prosecutors.
Scott told the courtroom at San Diego Naval Base that he and Gallagher had stabilised the fighter, who was breathing through a tube inserted to clear his airway.
The fighter was suffering from a leg wound and collapsed lung when Gallagher unexpectedly stabbed him with a knife below the collarbone, Scott said.
Scott, the team’s medic, said the fighter would have survived the stabbing but he decided to hold his thumb over the breathing tube, asphyxiating him.
Scott, who was given immunity by the judge, said the killing was an act of mercy, as he believed the young fighter would be tortured by Iraqi forces otherwise.
Gallagher, who had been on his eighth deployment, is facing charges of murder and attempted murder, which he denies.
The murder charge relates to the IS fighter and the two attempted murder charges relate to allegations that he shot at civilians, hitting a girl and an elderly man.
His defence team say he is the victim of disgruntled colleagues who found him demanding and wanted to prevent his promotion.
Scott’s evidence surprised prosecutors and prosecutor Lt Brian John said he had not revealed such details in previous conversations.
Scott said he had not been asked how the patient died previously and that he had felt free to admit what had happened after gaining the promise of immunity.
Lt John said: “So you can stand up there and you can lie about how you killed the ISIS prisoner so Chief Gallagher does not have to go to jail.
“You don’t want Chief Gallagher to go to jail, do you?”
“He’s got a wife and family,” Scott said. “I don’t think he should be spending his life in prison.”
Earlier in the trial, former SEAL Dylan Dille said Gallagher, 39, had described the fighter as “just an ISIS dirtbag” and that he had also fired at civilians.
If Gallagher is convicted by the jury of seven sailors, he could be jailed for life.
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