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Court lifts stay on ‘friendly fire’ trial

BARKSDALE AIR FORCE BASE, La. (AFPN) -- The Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces in Washington, D.C., lifted the stay June 7 in the case of United States vs. Harry Schmidt.

Major Schmidt was involved in an April 17, 2002, aircraft bombing incident that killed four Canadian soldiers and injured eight others near Kandahar, Afghanistan.

The stay was granted Feb. 27 following the civilian defense counsel’s appeal for a security clearance to permit the court an opportunity to examine the appeal. While the appeal was pending, the civilian defense counsel obtained an interim security clearance in his capacity as a Marine Corps Reserve officer, officials said.

The court determined the security clearance awarded rendered the request unnecessary. In the past, the government has granted civilian counsel classified documents upon request. The court consists of five civilian judges appointed by the president.

Officials said they anticipate that within the next few days, Col. Mary Boone, the military judge, will schedule the trial date. When the trial resumes, they also anticipate that remaining defense motions will be considered first.

Major Schmidt has been accused of dereliction of duty by failing to maintain appropriate flight discipline and failing to follow the rules of engagement and special instructions which were in effect in that area.

The charge is merely an allegation, and Major Schmidt is presumed innocent unless convicted, officials said.

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