Great News! Navy SEAL, Petty Officer 1st Class Julio Huertas, has been found "not guilty" of the charges against him stemming from the capture of the terrorist mastermind (Ahmed Hashim Abed) of the brutal killing of four American security contractors in Fallujah:
A U.S. military jury cleared a Navy SEAL Thursday of failing to prevent the beating of an Iraqi prisoner suspected of masterminding a 2004 attack that killed four American security contractors.
The contractors' burned bodies were dragged through the streets and two were hanged from a bridge over the Euphrates river in the former insurgent hotbed of Fallujah, in what became a turning point in the Iraq war.
The trial of three SEALs, the Navy's elite special forces unit, in the abuse case has outraged many Americans who see it as coddling terrorists.
A six-man jury found Petty Officer 1st Class Julio Huertas, 29, of Blue Island, Illinois, not guilty of charges of dereliction of duty and attempting to influence the testimony of another service member. The jury spent two hours deliberating the verdict.
"It's a big weight off my shoulders," a smiling and composed Huertas said as he left the courthouse at the U.S. military's Camp Victory on Baghdad's western outskirts.
"Compared to all the physical activity we go through, this has been mentally more challenging."
Huertas said he plans now to continue with his military career and "to go home and kiss my wife."
Huertas was the first of three SEALS to face a court-martial for charges related to the abuse incident and the verdict was a major blow to the government's case. All three SEALs could have received only a disciplinary reprimand, but insisted on a military trial to clear their names and save their careers. . . . MORE
Let us hope the charges will now be dropped against Matthew McCabe and Jonathan Keefe, the other two Navy SEALs accused in the case.