Former Gitmo commander found guilty of obstructing justice in civilian deaths in 2015

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A federal jury on Friday sentenced the former Naval Station Guantánamo Bay commander Captain John Nettleton's obstructing justice and other offenses during the Navy investigation into the death of a civilian in 2015.

Nettleton, 54, was also found guilty of making false statements, withholding information and falsifying records when the military investigated the death of Christopher M. Tur, the Department of Justice (DOJ) said. He faces up to 75 years in prison, but is likely to serve much less time based on sentence guidelines. His sentence has not yet been scheduled.

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Navy captain John R. Nettleton, then commander of the Guantanamo Bay Naval Station, Cuba, spoke during a commemoration ceremony for the Battle of Midway on June 3, 2014. (Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Jacob Goff / Navy via AP)

Navy captain John R. Nettleton, then commander of the Guantanamo Bay Naval Station, Cuba, spoke during a commemoration ceremony for the Battle of Midway on June 3, 2014. (Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Jacob Goff / Navy via AP)

Tur, 42, was the loss prevention security manager for the station's Naval Exchange, a commercial complex operated by the Navy. He was found dead in the waters of Guantánamo Bay, near the base on the southeast coast of Cuba on January 11, 2015. An autopsy later revealed that he was injured – including fractured ribs and a cut on his head – before drowning, the Justice Department said.

On January 9, the night he disappeared, Tur confronted Nettleton, who was serving as commander, at a party at the Officers Club, where he claimed that his wife, Lara, was having an affair with Nettleton, according to the evidence. put on trial, the Justice Department said.

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The men "consumed several alcoholic beverages," said the indictment.

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Tur later went to Nettleton's house that night and a "physical fight" ensued, and Tur was injured. Nettleton's daughter said she heard noises and went downstairs to see her father on the floor and Tur standing before him before he left and not being seen again. A friend of Tur's said he received a call from the man shortly afterwards and Tur said that he was at the captain's house and "had just knocked out the captain".

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Tur was reported missing on 10 January.

During the Navy investigation into Tur's death, Nettleton did not report that the man had accused him of having an affair, that the two fought or that Tur was injured in the fight, according to the DOJ.

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Nettleton denied the case, but was later determined to have occurred, according to prosecutors in Jacksonville, Florida. Tur's wife also admitted to the case when she testified during the trial.

The former commander continued to make false statements and did not report information relevant to the case, while authorities searched for Tur's body and later, during the investigation of his death, the Justice Department said.

"Captain Nettleton dishonored his oath and prevented the investigation of the tragic death of a civilian, preventing the necessary closure for the family and friends of the deceased," said assistant attorney general Brian A. Benczkowski. hold those who abuse their positions of public trust and obstruct justice ".

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Tur's brothers issued a statement Friday thanking the prosecutors and the jury, but added that “unfortunately this trial brought us more questions. … We will not stop until we have answers. "

Tur's blood was found inside the entrance to Nettleton's base residence and on a paper towel in the yard, according to the investigation.

“By deliberately deceiving the NCIS [Naval Criminal Investigative Service] during the investigation of Mr. Tur's tragic death, Captain Nettleton delayed justice and wasted valuable resources from the Navy Department, "said Matthew Lascell, NCIS special agent." NCIS is dedicated to holding those who illegally prevent investigations by your actions ".

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Nettleton commanded the Navy base, but had no role in operating the Guantanamo Bay detention center, located at the base and managed by a joint task force. He was appointed commander in Guantánamo Bay in June 2012.

Tur came to Guantánamo in May 2011 with his wife and two children.

Sam Chamberlain of Fox News and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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