Bamako (Mali)

2 Navy SEALs Under Suspicion in Strangling of Green Beret in Mali

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WASHINGTON — Navy criminal authorities are investigating whether two members of the Navy’s elite SEAL Team 6 strangled an Army Green Beret on assignment in Mali in June, military officials say.

Staff Sgt. Logan J. Melgar, a 34-year-old veteran of two deployments to Afghanistan, was found dead on June 4 in the embassy housing he shared in the Malian capital, Bamako, with several other Special Operations forces assigned to the West African nation to help with training and counterterrorism missions.

The soldier’s superiors in Stuttgart, Germany, almost immediately suspected foul play, and dispatched an investigating officer to the scene within 24 hours, military officials said. Agents from the Army’s Criminal Investigation Command spent months on the case before handing it off last month to the Naval Criminal Investigative Service.

No one has been charged in Sergeant Melgar’s death, which a military medical examiner ruled to be a homicide — strangulation, said three military officials briefed on the autopsy results. The two Navy SEALs, who have not been identified, were flown out of Mali soon after the episode and were placed on administrative leave.

The death has been shrouded in mystery, and the biggest unanswered question is why Sergeant Melgar was killed. “NCIS does not discuss the details of ongoing investigations,” Ed Buice, the agency’s spokesman, said in an email, confirming that his agency took over the case on Sept. 25.

Neither the Army nor the military’s Africa Command issued a statement about Sergeant Melgar’s death, not even after investigators changed their characterization of the two SEALs from “witnesses” to “persons of interest,” meaning they were trying to determine what the commandos knew about the crime and if they were involved.

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Wendy Pettit

Wendy Pettit is a writer for NYT and writes for other publications on her spare time. She lives in Chicago with her husband and her dog Zuko.

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