NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) - A military judge on Friday ordered officials to grant immunityto possible defense witnesses in the case of a Navy SEAL accused oflying about another SEAL's alleged mistreatment of an Iraqidetainee.
If immunity is not granted, the judge may end the case.
The charges against a total of three SEALs involve Ahmed HashimAbed, who has been linked to the 2004 deaths of four Blackwatercontractors who were mutilated before their bodies were hung from abridge in Fallujah.
Petty Officer 2nd Class Matthew McCabe is accused of strikingthe detainee in the midsection, dereliction of duty for failing tosafeguard the detainee, and lying to investigators following Abed'sarrest in September of last year.
Petty Officer 2nd Class Jonathan E. Keefe is charged withdereliction of duty and making a false official statement.
Petty Officer 1st Class Julio Huertas is charged withdereliction of duty, lying to investigators and impeding aninvestigation.
The SEALs have denied the charges.
According to a Navy spokesperson, in a hearing Friday regardingHuertas' case, defense and government attorneys discussed grantingpossible immunity to other service members - possible defensewitnesses - who reportedly back the three SEALs' version ofevents.
Previously these service members were denied immunity by theircommand.
At the hearing, the judge, Cmdr. Tierney Carlos, ordered thesevice members' command to provide witness immunity by March 24 orthe proceeding against Huertas would be abated.
The three SEALs involved are based at Joint Expeditionary BaseLittle Creek - Fort Story.
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