Navy SEAL faces hearing in Iraq abuse case

/ Source: The Associated Press

A Navy SEAL lieutenant faces a hearing Monday on allegations he assaulted an Iraqi detainee who died at the Abu Ghraib prison, the Navy said.

An Article 32 hearing, the military equivalent of a civilian grand jury, will be held at Naval Base San Diego for the unnamed officer.

The lieutenant allegedly punched Manadel al-Jamadi in the torso and allowed personnel under his command to abuse him, according to a charging document released by the Navy on Thursday.

Al-Jamadi, a suspect in the bombing of a Red Cross facility, was captured by SEALs in November 2003 during a joint special forces-CIA mission, and died a short time later at Abu Ghraib prison.

Al-Jamadi died from blunt force trauma to the upper torso complicated by hampered breathing, according to a military pathologist.

The lieutenant is a member of the Sea-Air-Land, or SEAL, unit known as SEAL Team-7, which conducted secret counterterrorist missions in Iraq with CIA personnel. It is based at Coronado, Calif.

The accused SEAL also posed for a photo in which al-Jamadi allegedly was subjected to degrading treatment. The photo has not been released. In April, the lieutenant allegedly told members of his platoon “it was not smart to have pictures of prisoners,” according to the charge sheet.

The charges against him include assault, maltreatment, failure to obey an order, conduct unbecoming an officer and false official statements.

A Navy lawyer will hear the evidence and make a recommendation to Rear Adm. Joseph Maguire, the top SEAL, who will decide whether to convene a court-martial.

Six other unnamed SEALs were implicated in prisoner abuse, including a petty officer who faces the military equivalent of a civilian misdemeanor trial for allegedly abusing al-Jamadi, and a boatswain’s mate who faces a special court-martial for allegedly beating al-Jamadi and other prisoners.

The prisoner abuse cases are the first to involve Navy personnel. Seven Army reservists from Maryland were charged in the wake of the Abu Ghraib prisoner scandal that erupted last spring.