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US Army Green Beret charged with murder of Afghan man

The 167th Theater Sustainment Command Judge Advocate General section culminated a year-long training exercise Aug. 7-8, 2018, at the Calhoun County Courthouse, Anniston, Alabama. (Sgt. Jeremy Dunkle/Army National Guard)

This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.

A U.S. Army Green Beret major has been charged with murder in the death of an Afghan man during his 2010 deployment to the war-torn country, the U.S. military says.

A spokesman said on December 13 that Major Matthew Golsteyn’s commander had determined that “sufficient evidence exists” to warrant the charges.

Golsteyn has allegedly admitted to shooting and killing a man in Afghanistan, saying he suspected him of being a Taliban bomb maker.

The major’s attorney, Phillip Stackhouse, told the Army Times that Golsteyn was a “humble servant-leader who saved countless lives, both American and Afghan, and has been recognized repeatedly for his valorous actions.”

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He said he would be “relentless” in defending Golsteyn against the charges.

An intermediary commander will review the warrant and decide whether the Green Beret, who was a captain at the time of the incident, will face a hearing that could lead to a court-martial.

During his deployment, Golsteyn was the recipient of the Distinguished Service Cross, the second-highest award for valor, after he helped track down a sniper targeting U.S. and Afghan troops, assisted a wounded Afghan soldier, and helped coordinate air strikes, the Army Times reported.

An initial investigation in 2014 was closed without any charges. But the Army reopened the investigation in 2016 after Golsteyn allegedly described in an interview how he and another soldier took the alleged bomb maker off of a base, shot him, and buried his remains.

U.S. Representative Duncan Hunter (Republican-California) has spoken on behalf of Golsteyn, describing him as a “distinguished and well-regarded Green Beret” and calling on the Army to “fix this stupidity.”