SAN DIEGO – The Iraqi general at the scene of an alleged murder of an Islamic State prisoner in Iraq in 2017 testified in a deposition video played in court Thursday that Navy SEAL Eddie Gallagher never stabbed the teenage detainee. The recording was made earlier this month.
Maj. Gen. Abbas al-Jubouri testified that he never saw Gallagher stab the detainee in the neck. Gallagher served alongside Abbas’ unit in an advise and assist capacity in Mosul.
“At any time did you see Chief Gallagher take out the knife while he was treating the ISIS fighter?” asked Maj. Nelson Candelario, one of Gallagher’s military lawyers.
“No,” Abbas replied.
“You never saw him put the knife near the ISIS fighter’s neck?” “No,” he replied.
Abbas told the defense lawyer if had he witnessed improper conduct from SEALs, he would have taken action.
“I would have stepped in,” Abbas said.
“Had you seen Chief Gallagher do anything wrong…you would have reported it?” Candelario asked.
“Exactly,” Abbas replied. “I would have stopped him…I would be very upset.”
As commander of the Iraqi Emergency Response Division, Abbas said he was in the compound when the injured ISIS prisoner was brought in.
Exactly one week ago, a Navy SEAL testified that Abbas’ unit tortured, raped and murdered prisoners.
The SEAL, Special Operator 1st Class Corey Scott, said he killed the ISIS prisoner by putting his thumb over his breathing tube in order to save him from falling into the hands of Abbas’ unit.
“I knew he was going to die anyway,” Scott told defense attorney Timothy Parlatore. “I wanted to save him from what was going to happen next to him.”
Iraqi forces have been accused by human rights groups of abuses in the battle to oust ISIS from Mosul. Witnesses have said Iraqi soldiers beat unarmed boys and men and routinely abused enemy combatants.
Prosecutors said Scott never mentioned asphyxiation in the many conversations they had with him before trial. Scott -- who was granted immunity in exchange for his testimony -- said they never asked him the cause of death. He could face perjury charges, Navy officials said, if he is found to have been untruthful on the stand.
The government rested its case Tuesday after calling its last witness -- a computer specialist who testified that Gallagher had texted a photo to a comrade in which he clutched the hair of the dead captive in one hand and a knife in the other.
Gallagher's superior, Master Chief Petty Officer Brian Alazzawi, also testified Tuesday that some members of Gallagher's platoon were upset despite the praise they received for their 2017 tour in Iraq.
He said Special Operator First Class Craig Miller told him in October that Gallagher stabbed a prisoner while deployed. Miller said he shared the information because Gallagher was being promoted and had been nominated for the Silver Star.
Alazzawi said he reported the alleged war crime, but it never went up to the chain of command until 2018. Gallagher is also accused of shooting two civilians — an elderly man and a school-age girl — from sniper perches in Iraq in 2017.
The seven-man jury is made up of mostly combat veterans in Afghanistan and Iraq.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.