Trump may pardon war crimes convicted

Navy SEAL Edward Gallagher is reportedly on President Donald Trump's list of pardon candidates.
Navy SEAL Edward Gallagher is reportedly on President Donald Trump's list of pardon candidates.

Donald Trump has reportedly asked for files to be prepared on pardoning several US military members accused of or convicted of war crimes, including one slated for trial on charges of shooting unarmed civilians in Iraq.

The president requested the immediate preparation of the paperwork, indicating he is considering pardons for the men around Memorial Day on May 27, according to the New York Times citing two unnamed US officials.

Assembling pardon files normally takes months but the Justice Department has pressed for the work to be completed before that holiday weekend, one of the officials said.

One request is for Special Operations Chief Edward Gallagher of the Navy SEALs, scheduled to stand trial in coming weeks on charges of shooting unarmed civilians and killing an enemy captive with a knife while deployed in Iraq.

Also believed to be included is the case of Major Mathew Golsteyn, an Army Green Beret accused of killing an unarmed Afghan in 2010, the Times said.

Reuters could not immediately identify a way to contact Gallagher and Golsteyn.

The newspaper reported that the cases of other men are believed to be included, without naming them.

The White House and Department of Justice did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Legal experts cited in the report said pardoning several accused and convicted war criminals, including some who have not yet gone to trial, has not been done in recent history, and some worried such pardons could erode the legitimacy of military law.

Australian Associated Press