Two U.S. Navy SEALs and two Marines have been charged in the strangulation death of an Army Green Beret while the service members were stationed in the African country of Mali last year, the Navy said on Thursday.
Charging documents describe a situation in which some of the nation’s most elite military personnel — including two members of the famed SEAL Team Six — broke into a Green Beret’s bedroom while he was sleeping, bound him with duct tape and put him into a choke hold.
The charges do not allege a specific motive. But the counts filed against the four men range from felony murder to involuntary manslaughter. They also have been charged with hazing.
The Navy has also accused them of obstructing justice after the Green Beret’s death: Officials said the men disposed of alcohol that was kept in quarters shared by sailors and Marines and also lied to Navy commanders and investigators.
The man who died was Army Staff Sergeant Logan Melgar, a native of Lubbock, Texas. He had deployed to Afghanistan twice before his death in Bamako, Mali, in June 2017, Army officials said.
The charging documents don’t state why the service members were in Mali. But U.S. Special Forces have been in Africa to support and train local troops in their fight against extremists.
The names of the service members who have been charged are redacted in the charging documents. Beth Baker, a Navy spokeswoman, said the Navy is prohibited at this time from releasing the names of the accused as well as their civilian lawyers. The service members are not in confinement, Baker said.
The two Marines are listed as being part of Special Operations Command. The SEALs belong to the Navy Special Warfare Development Group. The unit is better known as SEAL Team 6, which participated in the May 2011 raid that killed al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden at his compound.
The two SEALs are based in Virginia Beach. A preliminary hearing to review the case against all four service members is scheduled for Dec. 10 at a Navy base in nearby Norfolk. The Naval Criminal Investigative Service conducted the investigation.
U.S. Navy Captain Jason Salata, a spokesman for U.S. Special Operations Command, said Thursday that “we honor the memory of Staff Sgt. Melgar.”
“We will not allow allegations or substantiated incidents of misconduct to erode decades of honorable accomplishments by the members of US Special Operations Command.”
Associated Press National Security Writer Robert Burns in Washington and AP researcher Jennifer Farrar in New York contributed to this report.