[JURIST] A US military judge ruled Monday that the trials for two Navy SEALs [official website] accused in the alleged assault of an Iraqi prisoner will be held on a US military base in Iraq in order for the alleged victim to be questioned in court. Petty Officer 2nd Class Jonathan Keefe and Petty Officer 1st Class Julio Huertas are accused of assisting in a cover-up of the alleged assault of Ahmed Hashim Abed after his capture in September. A third SEAL, Petty Officer 2nd Class Matthew McCabe, is accused of assaulting Abed after his capture as well as assisting in the cover-up of the assault. Abed is suspected of organizing the 2004 ambush and killing of four US contractors in Fallujah [BBC report]. A hearing has tentatively been scheduled [CP report] for Wednesday to determine if McCabe's trial should also be moved to Iraq. Keene and Huertas will face trial in April, while a trial date has not yet been set for McCabe. All three men have pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Detainee abuse has been a major issue during the occupation of Iraq. In September 2008, the UK Defense Ministry admitted that soldiers unlawfully abused [JURIST report] detainees. In August of that year, six US sailors were charged [JURIST report] with allegedly abusing detainees at the Camp Bucca [backgrounder] prison facility in Southern Iraq. Abuse of detainees during the Iraq War [JURIST news archive] first garnered international attention after the 2004 release of pictures depicting prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib prison [CBC backgrounder; JURIST news archive] in Iraq.