Two of three Navy SEALs accused in the mistreatment of an Iraqi prisoner were arraigned in military court, Monday.
Courts-martial for Petty Officer 2nd Class Matthew McCabe and Petty Officer 1st Class Julio Huertas is schedule for next month. A third SEAL will be arraigned later.
The men are accused of punching terror suspect Abed Hashim Abed while he was in their custody this fall.
Abed is a key suspect in the 2004 ambush and mutilation of four Blackwater contractors in Fallujah.
Nearly 100 people rallied outside the Norfolk Naval Station in Virginia to support the SEALs and express their outrage. California congressman Rep. Duncan Hunter has also requested that Defense Secretary Robert Gates intervene in the cases.
The sailors have chosen to plead their innocence before a military judge instead of settling for a reprimand.
If convicted, the SEALs face up to a year's confinement, demotion in rank or even discharge.