BARKSDALE AIR FORCE BASE, La. – The military hearing into the accidental bombing of Canadian troops could conclude two days earlier than expected because the Air Force has scaled back its witness list, said a lawyer for one of the pilots charged in the case.
David Beck, Maj. William Umbach's lawyer, said Sunday that the Air Force has scratched several of its planned witnesses. The hearing could end Wednesday instead of Friday, Beck said.
The Air Force has said it will not comment on the case.
Beck and Charles Gittins, Maj. Harry Schmidt's defense lawyer, will call witnesses and present evidence when the government finishes with its case.
Schmidt and Umbach were charged with involuntary manslaughter, aggravated assault and dereliction of duty after an Air Force investigation found the pilots had disobeyed orders and acted recklessly in dropping a 500-pound guided bomb on Canadian troops near Kandahar, Afghanistan on April 17, 2002. Four Canadians were killed and eight were wounded.
The hearing will determine whether the pilots should be court-martialed. If convicted of all charges in a court martial, they face a maximum of 64 years in military prison.
Defense lawyers have suggested the pilots thought they were under fire from enemy forces.
Testimony is scheduled to resume Monday.