Federal judge grants injunction against second court-martial for Iraq war objector

[JURIST] US District Judge Benjamin Settle issued a preliminary injunction [order, PDF] Thursday against holding a second court-martial for Iraq war objector 1st Lt. Ehren Watada [advocacy website; JURIST news archive] until he resolves whether a second court-martial constitutes double jeopardy [Wex backgrounder]. Settle had already stayed court-martial proceedings, scheduled to begin last month, and later extended the stay [JURIST reports], after Watada asked the US District Court for the Western District of Washington for relief while an appeal is pending with the US Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces. Settle said he granted the preliminary injunction in part because Watada is likely to "prevail on the merits" of his double jeopardy claim, but Settle also said the military judge who presided over Watada's first court-martial likely abused his discretion in declaring a mistrial [JURIST report].

Watada, a 28-year-old Honolulu native who is the first commissioned officer in the US military to publicly refuse deployment to Iraq, 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 and Courage to Resist [advocacy websites] led to the charges of conduct unbecoming an officer and the original charge of contempt toward officials. AP has more. The Olympian has local coverage.

 

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