US Navy SEAL found not guilty of murder in war crimes trial

Los Angeles (AFP) - A decorated US Navy SEAL was found not guilty Tuesday of murdering a captive teenage militant in Iraq, the most serious of the charges brought against him during a two-week war crimes trial in San Diego.

Edward Gallagher, 40, was likewise acquitted of two counts of attempted murder against Iraqi civilians, but was convicted of posing for a photograph beside the corpse of the captive Islamic State (IS) group fighter.

The maximum sentence he could face is four months imprisonment, meaning he is set to walk free following Tuesday's verdict on account of the nine months he has already served in pre-trial confinement.

The charges stemmed from allegations by men under his own command in the special operations branch of the US Navy.

They were among American troops deployed to Mosul, in northern Iraq, alongside Iraqi forces battling IS for control of the country's second city.

Gallagher's case proved divisive in the US, where he is viewed as a war hero by some.

His cause was championed by around 40 Republican members of Congress, as well as the right-wing Fox News channel.

President Donald Trump in May expressed concern over the prosecution of US soldiers accused of war crimes, with Gallagher reportedly among those he was considering granting pardons.