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General asks for Panetta's emails

| Tuesday, June 25, 2013, 7:45 p.m.

RALEIGH — Lawyers representing an Army general facing sexual assault charges are asking a military judge to force prosecutors to turn over any emails related to the case sent or received by former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta.

A court martial is set to begin next month at Fort Bragg for Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Sinclair on charges including forcible sodomy, indecent acts, violating orders and adultery.

In a motion filed Tuesday as part of a pre-trial hearing, lawyers for Sinclair argue top Pentagon brass were receiving regular updates last year on the investigation and may have encouraged subordinates to make an example of Sinclair. They are also seeking any minutes from any meetings about the case attended by Panetta, then the military's top civilian leader.

It is unlawful in the military justice system for senior commanders to interfere in prosecutorial decisions, and Sinclair's lawyers are seeking to have the case against him dismissed.

Two of Sinclair's commanders, Gen. Dan Allyn and Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Colt, testified at a hearing earlier this month that there was no such pressure. Both generals testified they relied solely on their best judgment in deciding to charge and prosecute Sinclair.

In a separate motion, meanwhile, Sinclair's lawyers sought to have some of the general's own emails suppressed at trial.

Sinclair briefly took the witness stand at the hearing on Tuesday to talk about his use of a military computer in his office in Afghanistan, as well as compliance with password policies. It was the first time he has testified in the case.

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