U.S. Army refiles charges against war objector
Sat Feb 24, 2007 12:50AM EST
SEATTLE (Reuters) – The U.S. government refiled charges on Friday against an Army officer who refused to fight in Iraq after his first court martial ended in a mistrial.
The Army charged First Lt. Ehren Watada with one count of missing movements and four counts of conduct unbecoming an officer. Watada, 28, faces a dishonorable discharge and up to six years in a military prison if convicted on all counts.
Earlier this month, a military judge declared a mistrial in the first known court martial of a U.S. Army officer for publicly refusing to serve in Iraq. The mistrial was based on a ruling that Watada had unknowingly signed a document that amounted to a confession of guilt.
At the time, Watada’s lawyer said a retrial would constitute double jeopardy, which forbids a defendant from being tried twice for the same crime, and would seek to have a second case thrown out. There is no date set for a retrial.
The suit was refiled at Fort Lewis Army base south of Seattle.
Watada has admitted to not boarding a plane headed to Iraq with the rest of his unit and making public statements criticizing the war as illegal and accusing President George W. Bush’s administration of deceiving the American people to enter into a war of aggression.
The defense made the argument that since the war is illegal, the order to deploy to Iraq is also illegal and following it would make Watada party to war crimes.