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Second Navy SEAL acquitted in Iraqi prisoner assault case

[JURIST] A Navy judge in Iraq acquitted US Navy SEAL [official website] Jonathan Keefe Friday of a charge of dereliction of duty in relation to the alleged assault of a high-profile Iraqi detainee implicated in the killing of four American contractors in Fallujah [JURIST new archive] in 2004, citing insufficient evidence [AP report]. Testimony at the hearing included that of recently acquitted fellow Navy SEAL Petty Officer 1st Class Julio Huertas, which directly conflicted with testimony from Iraqi prisoner Ahmed Hashim Abed. Petty Officer 2nd Class Keefe and Petty Officer 2nd Class Matthew McCabe had been charged with dereliction for allegedly failing to take action while Huertas beat Abed. McCabe is awaiting his military trial, scheduled for May 3 in Norfolk, Virginia.

A US military panel in Iraq on Thursday acquitted Huertas [JURIST report] of any wrongdoing in connection with the alleged assault of Abed, an Iraqi detainee suspected of organizing an incident that resulted in the deaths of four military contractors in Fallujah. A US military judge ruled [JURIST report] in January that Huertas's court-martial would be held at Camp Victory [GlobalSecurity Backgrounder] in Baghdad, Iraq, so that Abed could testify against him. Detainee abuse has been a major issue during the Iraq war, and the case against the three Navy SEALS has been seen as an attempt to compensate for other abuses like those at Abu Ghraib [JURIST news archive].

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