US Army officer opposing Iraq war can be court-martialed again: military judge

[JURIST] US military judge Lt. Col. John Head ruled Friday that the refiling of charges [JURIST report] in the court-martial of US Army 1st Lt. Ehren Watada [advocacy website; JURIST news archive] after a February mistrial [JURIST report] does not constitute double jeopardy and will not violate Watada's Fifth Amendment right. Watada, a 28-year old Honolulu native who is the first commissioned officer in the US military to publicly refused to deploy to Iraq [JURIST report] in June 2006, is charged with four counts of conduct unbecoming an officer and one count of missing movements. His lawyers have already filed a notice of appeal to the US Army Court of Criminal Appeals (ACCA) [official website]. If convicted at court-martial, Watada could be sentenced up to six years in prison and receive a dishonorable discharge from the Army. Watada's new trial, which was scheduled to begin July 23, will likely be delayed pending the ACCA's ruling.

Watada has refused 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 an initial charge of contempt towards officials. AP has more.

 

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