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Judges in Afghanistan voted unanimously on Wednesday to reject a motion to dismiss the case against three Americans who were accused of planning a suicide attack on a military base.
Senior Airman First Class Stephen Jones, Staff Sgt Aaron Urban and Senior Airman Jason T. White were charged with conspiring to commit murder on June 6, 2017, for their alleged roles in the June 6, 2017 attack on the Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan, which left four soldiers dead and 16 wounded.
Afghan authorities reportedly told Fox News earlier this week that at least six people were killed and more than 70 wounded when two Taliban suicide bombers detonated suicide vests in a parking lot. The attack was captured on a camera by an Afghan civilian.
Appeals Judge E. Blackwell Chrisley was among those who argued on behalf of the American defendants, saying the charges were an overreach of the war crimes statute, giving the prosecution power beyond what it was originally given.
“That’s a tough thing to do,” Chrisley said of the prosecution’s effort to criminalize such actions.
“The Taliban are bad guys,” Chrisley said. “I don’t care who their target may be, they’re bad guys.”
Chrisley said he doesn’t think charges should be dismissed, but simply the trial should be delayed until the issues can be addressed.
Defense lawyer Kirk Hawes said the defense is seeking clarification of the wording of the charge, which was introduced in March.
The judge said that the statement reads, “Because certain persons have planned, contemplated and participated in certain acts, they have conspired and/or planned to murder” members of the military who “do not willingly or voluntarily perform acts for a government” and serve in a combat zone.
“We need more than just the words ‘killed or caused to kill,’ then they can assert the conspiracy,” Chrisley said.
Hawes said the defendants cannot help but focus on the fact that 16 people were wounded, as opposed to the four who died.
Chrisley said he believes there’s a very good argument to be made that the government is asking for the death penalty, as it could be established that the defendants “preceived the intent to execute” those attacked, either by the bombing or afterwards.
“We’re asking that they issue a stay of the proceedings until the concern can be addressed,” Hawes said.
Chrisley added that he was worried about the eventual sentence the defendants would face if convicted.
Editor’s Note: Corey Lewandowski came on the show after the judge heard arguments on the motion.
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