U.S. District Judge Ricardo Urbina said Justice Department prosecutors improperly built their case on sworn statements that had been given under a promise of immunity. Urbina said the government’s explanations were “contradictory, unbelievable and lacking in credibility.”
And all charges have been dismissed, reports Air Force Times.
In ruling one month before the defendants were to face trial in Washington, Judge Urbina dismissed the case not for its merits, but for the way the government had handled the prosecution, calling the government’s explanations for the improper use of statements “contradictory, unbelievable and lacking in credibility.”
Here is the ruling (courtesy NYT). The military analogy would be attempts to build a case and use statements from a FEB/FNAEB, or aviation mishap safety investigation, or a hospital QQ/RM situation. I’m not sure this is the kind of a ruling that would come out of a court-martial, so these guys potentially benefitted from a civilian prosecution vice court-martial.
Maybe not, here is a quote from the Army Times on the case.
Investigators promised the men that their statements were to be used only for the internal inquiry and would not be used in a criminal case. Such limited immunity deals are common in police departments so officers involved in shootings cannot hold up internal investigations by refusing to cooperate.
The deal meant that prosecutors had to build their case without using those statements. Urbina said the Justice Department failed to do so. Prosecutors read those statements, reviewed them in the investigation and used them to get search warrants, Urbina said.