DONALD Trump has pardoned two Army officers accused of war crimes and promoted a US Navy SEAL who posed with a teen ISIS fighter’s corpse.
The US President intervened in the three war crimes cases on Friday – defying rulings made by military leaders.
Eddie Gallagher, centre, with wife Andrea, left, was acquitted of murdering a teen ISIS fighter[/caption]
Trump ordered a promotion for Special Warfare Operator 1st Class Edward Gallagher, who was accused of stabbing a wounded ISIS militant to death in Iraq in 2017.
In July, a military jury acquitted him of murdering the captured fighter – but it convicted him of illegally posing with the teen fighter’s corpse.
This lead to Gallagher’s rank being reduced – a move that would have cost him up to $200,000 in retirement funds because of his demotion to a 1st class petty officer.
After his demotion was reversed, Gallagher too to social media to thank Trump.
“There are no words to describe how grateful my family and I are to our President – Donald J Trump for his intervention and decision,” Gallagher said.
Brave Navy SEAL Gallagher was accused by members of his own platoon of murdering an ISIS captive[/caption]
One of the pardons went to Maj. Mathew Golsteyn, a former Green Beret accused of killing a suspected bomb-maker during a 2010 deployment to Afghanistan.
Golsteyn was leading a team of Army Special Forces at the time and believed that the man was responsible for an explosion that killed two U.S. Marines.
He has argued that the Afghan was a legal target because of his behavior at the time of the shooting.
“Our family is profoundly grateful for the president’s action. We have lived in constant fear of this runaway prosecution,” Golsteyn said in a statement.
The second pardon went to 1st Lt. Clint Lorance, who had been convicted of murder for ordering his soldiers to fire upon three unarmed Afghan men in July 2012, killing two.
Lorance has served more than six years of a 19-year sentence at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.
Trump personally called the three men after granting the pardons, reports claim.
White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham said in a statement that the president is responsible for ensuring the law is enforced and that mercy is granted, when appropriate.
“For more than two hundred years, presidents have used their authority to offer second chances to deserving individuals, including those in uniform who have served our country. These actions are in keeping with this long history,” the statement said.
A Pentagon spokesperson said the Department of Defense has confidence in the military justice system.
“The President is part of the military justice system as the Commander-in-Chief and has the authority to weigh in on matters of this nature,” the spokesperson said.
In recent weeks, Pentagon officials had spoken with Trump about the cases, provided facts and emphasized the due process built into the military justice system.
Trump said earlier this year that he was considering issuing the pardons.
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“Some of these soldiers are people that have fought hard and long,” he said in May.
“You know, we teach them how to be great fighters, and then when they fight sometimes they get really treated very unfairly.”
At the time, Trump acknowledged opposition to the possible pardons by some veterans and other groups and said he could make a decision after trials had been held.