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Arraignment scheduled for Fort Bragg soldier accused of killing unarmed Afghan national

Then-Army Capt. Mathew Golsteyn is congratulated following a Valor Awards ceremony for 3rd Special Forces Group at Fort Bragg, N.C., on Jan. 4, 2011.

JAMES ROBINSON/THE FAYETTEVILLE (N.C.) OBSERVER

By STEVE DEVANE | The Fayetteville Observer | Published: June 25, 2019

FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (Tribune News Service) — A Fort Bragg soldier accused of killing an unarmed Afghan national in 2010 is expected to be formally advised of the charges against him Thursday.

Maj. Mathew Golsteyn will be arraigned in a courtroom on post, according to Lt. Col. Loren Bymer, a spokesman for U.S. Army Special Operations Command. A 4th Judicial Circuit judge has named an arraignment judge and will serve as the trial judge to preside over the case, Bymer said in a written statement released Monday.

A trial date has not been set, he said.

Golsteyn, who was a captain in the 3rd Special Forces Group, was referred to trial by general court-martial last month by Lt. Gen. Francis M. Beaudette, commanding general of the command. Golsteyn is accused of premeditated murder.

In February, Golsteyn waived his rights to an Article 32 preliminary hearing to assess evidence against him. The hearing is required before a defendant can be referred to a general court-martial.

Golsteyn was among the American forces in Marjah, Afghanistan, when he is accused of killing the Afghan national.

Evidence presented at an administrative hearing in 2015 revealed the Afghan national was suspected of making a bomb that killed two Marines. The Army held the hearing to review Golsteyn's actions and decide whether he could remain in the military.

Evidence presented at the hearing indicated the Afghan was captured and released. Golsteyn is then accused of killing him, burying his body, returning to the grave the next morning and burning the body.

Army officials began investigating in September 2011, after Golsteyn described the killing during a job interview polygraph exam with the Central Intelligence Agency.

Golsteyn was stripped of his Special Forces Green Beret tab and a Silver Star medal in 2015 and was kicked out of the Army because of the incident.

The Army pulled him back into the service to face the murder charge.

Golsteyn told The Washington Post in February that he took up an ambush position after the Afghan was released and watched to see whether the Afghan would leave the area. He told the newspaper that if the Afghan walked toward him instead of some other direction, "it meant he was going back to insurgent activities and could be legally targeted."

President Donald Trump is considering granting pardons to Golsteyn and several other members of the military accused of war crimes, the Associated Press reported last month.

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