Lt Watada Court-martial Temporarily Postponed: Declared a mistrial!

I appeared at an antiwar teach-in with Ms Carolyn Ho, mother of the lieutenant, and presented these remarks denouncing the war and the draconian military “justice” system.

The court-martial was declared a mistrial over the objections of defence counsel. Lt. Watada apparently will be retried on March 12. Such chaos and anarchy is not very comforting given the obvious bias and prejudice toward this heroic war resister. One salutary result of this mistrial is that Lt Watada will have about five more weeks to continue his courageous if not epochal campaign against the Iraq War and to receive greater exposure concerning his persecution for his political and ethical beliefs. Frankly, given this charade, if this person is sentenced to one day in jail, it would be a disgrace to the army and the Uniform Code of Military Justice:

Mistrial declared in U.S. war objector court martial.
From the Associated Press, derived from Los Angeles Times 3:42 PM PST, February 7, 2007

A judge declared a mistrial today in the court-martial of an Army lieutenant who refused to deploy to Iraq, saying the soldier did not fully understand a document he signed admitting to elements of the charges.

Prosecutors said 1st Lt. Ehren Watada admitted in the document that he had a duty to go to Iraq with his fellow soldiers. Watada, however, said he admitted only that he did not go to Iraq with his unit, not that he had a duty to go.

Military judge Lt. Col. John Head granted prosecutors’ request for a mistrial, which Watada’s lawyer opposed. He set a March 12 date for a new trial and dismissed the jurors.

Watada, 28, of Honolulu, had been expected to testify in his own defense today until Head and attorneys met in a closed meeting for much of the morning.

Watada is the first commissioned officer to be court-martialed for refusing to go to Iraq, said Eugene Fidell, president of the National Institute of Military Justice in Washington, D.C.

In the 12-page stipulation of fact he signed last month, Watada acknowledged that he refused to deploy last June with his unit, the 3rd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, and that he made public statements criticizing the Iraq war. Watada has said he refused to go to Iraq because he believes the war is illegal.

In exchange, prosecutors dropped two charges of conduct unbecoming an officer against him. He remains charged with missing movement — for his refusal to deploy — and two other allegations of conduct unbecoming an officer for comments made about the case. He could receive four years in prison and a dishonorable discharge if convicted.

In their opening statements Tuesday, prosecutors said Watada abandoned his soldiers and brought disgrace upon himself and the service by accusing the Army of war crimes and denouncing the Bush administration.

Watada’s attorney, Eric Seitz, countered that Watada acted in good conscience, based on his own convictions.

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