Washington: US President Donald Trump has hinted that he is considering pardons for several American military members accused or convicted of war crimes, the media reported.
Two US officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity told the New York Times that the Trump administration has made requests for paperwork needed to pardon the servicemen on or around Memorial Day, which falls on May 27.
One pardon request was for Special Operations Chief Edward Gallagher of the Navy SEALs, who was charged in 2018 for a number of war crimes, including stabbing and murdering a wounded person and shooting at unarmed Iraqi civilians, the daily reported on Saturday.
A few months after Gallagher was charged, Trump met criticism after he said that the Navy SEAL would soon be moved to “less restrictive confinement” in “honour of his past service” to the nation.
Other cases were believed to include the case of a former Blackwater security contractor found guilty in the deadly 2007 shooting of dozens of unarmed Iraqis; the case of Major Mathew L. Golsteyn — the Army Green Beret accused of killing an unarmed Afghan in 2010 — and the case of a group of Marine Corps snipers charged with urinating on the corpses of dead Taliban fighters.
The US officials told the daily that they had not seen a complete list and did not know if other service members were included in the request for pardon paperwork.
The White House sent requests on Friday to the Justice Department’s Office of the Pardon Attorney, which alerted the military branches, according to one senior military official.
Pardon files include background information and details on criminal charges and in many cases include letters describing how the person in question had made amends.
The official said that while assembling pardon files typically takes months, the Justice Department stressed that all files would have to be complete before Memorial Day weekend because the President planned to pardon the men around then.
Another official confirmed the request concerning Gallagher.