US refiles charges against Army officer opposing Iraq war after mistrial

[JURIST] The US government has refiled charges against US Army 1st Lt. Ehren Watada [advocacy website], a US Army officer who failed to deploy to Iraq in June, after the military judge overseeing his court-martial [JURIST report] declared a mistrial two weeks ago. The judge declared a mistrial [JURIST report] after throwing out a pretrial agreement in which Watada admitted that he failed to deploy to Iraq. The jury had already seen the agreement. Under the new charges filed Friday, Watada faces four counts of conduct unbecoming an officer and one count of missing movements. If convicted, Watada could be sentenced to up to six years in prison and receive a dishonorable discharge from the Army.

Watada, a 28-year-old Honolulu native who is the first commissioned officer in the US military to publicly refuse deployment to Iraq, refuses to be classified as a conscientious objector because he does not object to war in general, just to the "illegal" war in Iraq. He offered to serve in Afghanistan, but the US Army refused. His vocal protests and participation in rallies by Veterans for Peace [advocacy website] and Courage to Resist [advocacy website] led to the charges of conduct unbecoming an officer and the original charge of contempt toward officials. Reuters has more.

 

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