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Marine: Improper procedures used in Manning case

FORT MEADE, Md. — The Marine Corps’ top correctional administrator said Wednesday that brig officials at Quantico, Va., used improper procedures to recommend that an Army private charged with giving US secrets to the WikiLeaks website be held in maximum custody.

Chief Warrant Officer 5 Abel Galaviz testified at a pretrial hearing at Fort Meade to determine whether the nine months that Private First Class Bradley Manning spent in the brig amounted to illegal punishment, possibly warranting a dismissal of the case.

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Galaviz said the board used an unapproved form to convey its recommendations to the brig commander.

The testimony was the strongest evidence the defense has produced to counter the government’s claim that the confinement conditions were proper.

Nevertheless, Galaviz concluded that the brig commander, Chief Warrant Officer 4 James Averhart, was justified in keeping Manning in maximum custody.

Earlier Wednesday, a former supervisor of the brig denied Wednesday that he was making light of Manning’s homosexuality when he referred to the soldier’s underwear as ‘‘panties’’ in a memo. Marine Corps Master Sergeant Brian Papakie testified as a prosecution witness on the seventh day of the pretrial hearing.

The military contends Manning had to be confined to his 8-by-6-foot cell at least 23 hours a day, sometimes without clothing, to prevent him from hurting or killing himself during his confinement from July 2010 to April 2011.

Under questioning by defense lawyer David Coombs, Papakie said he uses the word “panties” interchangeably with ‘‘skivvies’’ and ‘‘underwear’’ when discussing men’s undershorts.

‘‘I’ve always used the phrase, ‘Don’t get my panties in a bunch,’ which is what I tell the staff all the time,’’ he said.

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