- Gallagher's lawyers say these claims are "entirely fabricated," adding that these months-old documents are leaking now because the prosecution's case is falling apart.
- Gallagher, who allegedly stabbed an unarmed ISIS fighter to death and shot at civilians in Iraq, will stand trial next month.
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A decorated US Navy SEAL accused of brutal killings in Iraq allegedly threatened to kill teammates who spoke against him, court documents show, according to The San Diego Union-Tribune.
Chief Special Warfare Operator Edward "Eddie" Gallagher is accused of murdering an unarmed ISIS fighter with a hunting knife and firing on civilians with a sniper rifle while deployed in Iraq, as well as intimidating fellow SEALs. Ahead of his May 28 court-martial trial, a leaked judge's ruling from January alleges Gallagher threatened to kill those who spoke about his supposed misconduct.
At least three witnesses, two of which are no longer cooperating with investigators, have accused Gallagher of stabbing an ISIS fighter to death after the young militant had been brought to him for medical treatment during a 2017 deployment to Iraq. There is a photo of Gallagher posing with the body, which he reportedly sent to another Navy SEAL with the message: "Good story behind this, got him with my hunting knife."
Witnesses have also told investigators they saw Gallagher shoot an elderly man and a young girl, both unarmed civilians.
Gallagher was arrested in September of last year following allegations of intimidating witnesses and obstruction of justice and detained at San Diego's Naval Consolidated Brig Miramar. He was officially charged in January with premeditated murder, among other crimes, in January.
In late March, he was moved from the brig at Miramar to a facility at at Balboa Naval Medical Center following a tweet by President Trump, in a highly unusual intervention in a court-martial. Gallagher is set to stand trial next month.
A ruling by Navy Judge Capt. Aaron Rugh written in favor of continued confinement for the accused and obtained by The San Diego Union-Tribune reveals that one witness heard Gallagher threaten to kill anyone who spoke about the murder.
The SEAL has previously been accused of attempting to bribe and even blackmail his teammates to keep them quiet.
"Based on (Gallagher's) continued and methodic acts of witness intimidation, I deemed pretrial confinement necessary," Rugh ruled in January, according to The San Diego Union-Tribune.
Gallagher's defense team argues that months-old court documents are leaking because the prosecution's case is rapidly falling apart.
"There's nothing recent that's good for them," Gallagher's lawyer, Tim Parlatore, told Business Insider Monday, adding that the information on which the ruling is based is problematic.
"That ruling was based on a hearing where none of the actual witnesses testified," Parlatore explained. "You had an agent come up and testify about things that people said to him, which is permissible in that type of hearing, but it's not as reliable as the actual witness statements."
The defense attorney disputed the claims in the leaked ruling, telling BI that Gallagher's alleged threats to kill his fellow SEALs are "entirely fabricated." He asked rhetorically, "If [Gallagher] seriously wanted to kill one of these guys in May 2017 and he didn't get arrested until September 2018, how come nobody got hurt?"
The defense team is currently pushing to remove some of the pre-trial movement and access restrictions currently placed on Gallagher, as well as secure full immunity for the witnesses who initially accused the SEAL, particularly those who have pleaded the Fifth Amendment to avoid further cooperation with investigators, so that they might officially testify under oath in hopes of getting "the truth to come out."
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