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...(more)...NAVAL STATION NORFOLK, Va. (AP) — Two Navy SEALs accused in the mistreatment of an Iraqi suspect in the 2004 slayings of four U.S. contractors were arraigned in military court Monday, and one SEAL said he was gratified by support from the public and some members of Congress.
The judge scheduled courts-martial next month for Petty Officer 2nd Class Matthew McCabe of Perrysburg, Ohio, and Petty Officer 1st Class Julio Huertas of Blue Island, Ill. A third SEAL will be arraigned later.
The SEALs have received an outpouring of public support on the Internet, and a California congressman has led a campaign urging Defense Secretary Robert Gates to intervene. About three dozen protesters, including the mother of one of the slain contractors, stood outside the Norfolk Naval Station gate Monday morning holding signs of support.
McCabe is accused of striking the detainee in the midsection, dereliction of duty for failing to safeguard the detainee, and lying to investigators. He deferred entering a plea until his Jan. 19 trial.
McCabe told reporters he was confident he would be exonerated.
"I feel very good about it," he said as he made his way through the crowd of supporters, shaking hands and thanking them. "The support is phenomenal. It makes us feel better, all these people being behind us."