RHEIN-MAIN AIR BASE, Germany — Together, they were once groom and best man, but on Thursday the best man took the stand against his friend to tell how the pair collaborated to cheat the Air Force.

Under a grant of immunity, Senior Airman Jacquin Kirkman testified at an Article 32 hearing that he and Master Sgt. J. Abdur Rahim Saafir readily discussed and exchanged information on promotion tests, which is taboo.

“That was a given between us,” Kirkman said. Comparing notes enabled the pair “to maximize everything we had.”

Kirkman testified that, as far back as 1996, he and Saafir also would share what they knew about promotion tests with a network of friends in uniform stretching from Germany and Turkey to Japan and Alaska.

The Air Force test cheating scandal that Saafir is accused of taking part in has cast a pall over a highly regulated process with all sorts of checks and balances.

When Capt. Patrick Dolan, the lead defense counsel, told Kirkman at the pre-trial hearing that up to 16 airmen have been implicated in the scandal so far, Kirkman didn’t flinch.

“That wouldn’t surprise me,” said Kirkman, who several years ago served as Saafir’s best man at the master sergeant’s wedding.

Saafir, a mission support flight superintendent for the 469th Air Base Group at Rhein-Main and a test proctor, faces multiple counts of conspiracy and failure to obey a lawful general regulation.

The Article 32 hearing, equivalent to a civil grand jury proceeding, ended Thursday without the defense calling a witness. Maj. Kyle Jacobson, the hearing’s investigating officer, said he would soon make a recommendation to higher headquarters on whether enough evidence exists to warrant a trial.

Agents with the Air Force Office of Special Investigations testified the day before about evidence seized last May from Saafir’s house, vehicle and office that implicated him in the scandal. Among the items was a photocopy of a test.

Kirkman, the only witness Wednesday, spoke of how he and Saafir — and presumably others — created a log of test questions to help friends pass their tests. The pair even spoke in code words over the phone. “Taking a trip (or journey)” meant “testing,” while “itinerary” meant a list of test questions.

On cross-examination, Dolan got Kirkman to acknowledge that Saafir was a reluctant participant when Kirkman called him last spring asking for test answers. Saafir and Kirkman had drifted apart in 2001 after Kirkman was court-martialed on unrelated charges.

When the call was placed, Kirkman was assisting OSI, and their conversation was being recorded.

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