NORFOLK, Va. - Two of the three Navy SEALs accused in the mistreatment of anIraqi detainee will have their military trials take place in Iraq,a military judge ruled Monday.
Both Petty Officer 1st Class Julio Huertas and Petty Officer 2ndClass Jonathan E. Keefe appeared in military court at Naval StationNorfolk in separate hearings. In each case, the presiding judgedecided to move the sailor's trial to Camp Victory in Iraq.
Cmdr. Tierney Carlos moved the trials after governmentprosecutors said they would make the detainee available fordeposition at Camp Victory in Baghdad but would not bring him toNaval Station Norfolk to testify. The judge ruled that Keefe andHuertas have a right to face their accuser in open court.
The charges against the three SEALs involve Ahmed Hashim Abed,who has been linked to the 2004 deaths of four Blackwatercontractors who were mutilated before their bodies were hung from abridge.
Petty Officer 2nd Class Matthew McCabe, of Perrysburg, Ohio, isaccused of striking the detainee in the midsection, dereliction ofduty for failing to safeguard the detainee, and lying toinvestigators. A hearing for McCabe is tentatively set forWednesday before a different judge.
Huertas of Blue Island, Ill., faces charges of dereliction ofduty, lying to investigators and impeding an investigation.
Keefe, of Yorktown, faces charges of dereliction of duty andmaking a false official statement.
Huertas and Keefe have pleaded not guilty. Their trials areplanned for April.
The SEALs have received an outpouring of support from people whoconsider them heroes for capturing Abed. Several members ofCongress have asked that the charges be dropped, and more than100,000 people have joined a Facebook page created to support theSEALs.
Huertas' attorney, Monica Lombardi, said she welcomed thejudge's decision.
"We were going to have to travel there to do the depositionanyway, but the government said the witness wasn't going to beavailable for trial," Lombardi told The Associated Press. "Thejudge said, 'I'm thinking they should all be moved there.' I cansee the logic in his ruling."
Phil Cave, a former Navy judge advocate now in private practicebut not involved in the SEALs case, said that in his 31 years ofexperience with the military justice system he cannot recall anycourt-martial being moved from here to overseas, although therehave been many moved from foreign countries to the U.S.
Military officials originally wanted to handle the case througha process known as "nonjudicial punishment," but the SEALs insistedon going to trial in an effort to clear their names and save theircareers. If convicted by a six-person military jury, they couldface up to a year in jail, a bad conduct discharge or loss ofpay.
Newport News police officers are in the middle of a massive operation to get wanted criminals out of the neighborhoods. They are rounding up everyone who has an outstanding warrant.
Hampton Roads Transit customers could see higher fares to ride the bus, light rail and ferry.
Running a red light could cost you a hefty fine, even if an officer doesn't pull you over. Cameras are going up at intersections across Hampton Roads, and the most recent went live Monday in downtown Norfolk.