USA

US Navy Seal Sentenced For Posing With Corpse

One image showed him clutching the hair of the corpse with one hand and holding a knife in another.

Navy Special Operations Chief Edward Gallagher leaving a military courtroom (Picture: PA).

A decorated Navy Seal acquitted of murdering an Islamic State captive in Iraq has been demoted after being convicted for posing with the corpse.

Special Operations Chief Edward Gallagher, 40, was given a demotion by a military jury on Wednesday after the Bronze Star recipient acknowledged making ethical and moral mistakes.

He was also handed the maximum penalty for the offence of four months in confinement.

However, he will not serve jail time because the sentence is less than the time he spent in custody before the trial.

The platoon chief told the jury he was fully responsible for his actions on the day he took photos with the body of the 17-year-old militant:

"I put a black eye on the two communities that I love - the US Marine Corps and the US Navy - specifically the SEAL community."

He said he tried to lead by example but did not always succeed.

The photos were taken after Gallagher and other SEAL medics provided treatment for the captive who was wounded in an airstrike in 2017 and handed over by Iraqi forces.

One image showed him clutching the hair of the corpse with one hand and holding a knife in another.

Prosecutors used the images and text messages that included "got him with my hunting knife" to build a murder case against Gallagher.

After the court announced the sentence includes a reduction in rank, Gallagher turned to his wife, shook his head and pretended to unpin his "anchors" - the insignia of a chief - and fling them across the courtroom. He then smiled and hugged her.

The sentence will not go into effect until it is approved by the commanding officer overseeing the court-martial.

Gallagher's lawyers said they plan to appeal the punishment that will affect his pension and benefits just as the 19-year veteran plans to retire from the service.

On Tuesday, he was acquitted of premeditated murder in the killing of the same 17-year-old militant. 

Special Operations Chief Edward Gallagher was also cleared of randomly shooting other Iraqi civilians.