Thursday, February 08, 2007

Lt. Watada Court-Martial Ends in Mistrial

Breaking news from the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, February 7, 2007 - Mistrial ends Watada court-martial
The court-martial of 1st Lt. Ehren Watada ended in a mistrial Wednesday.
The case's judge, Lt. Col. John Head, declared the trial over after a day of wrangling over a stipulation of facts that Watada had signed before the trial and that would have been part of the instructions to the jury. The judge decided that Watada never intended when he signed the stipulation to mean that he had a duty to go to Iraq with his unit.
Again the issue was Watada's views on the Iraq war -- opinions that kept him from going with his unit to the conflict and that the judge didn't want brought up at the court-martial.
Watada, a Stryker Brigade soldier, is the first commissioned officer to refuse to be deployed to Iraq. Watada's unit left this sprawling base for Iraq in June, but Watada remained behind. He said he believes the war is illegal and that his duty is to not abide by illegal orders.
But Head tried to keep the court-martial from becoming a tribunal on the war and its legality and has ruled that Watada's attorney cannot present witnesses to question the war's legality.
Outside the base, that has been the issue as peace activists from across the country have rallied to Watada's side.
On June 22, 2006, U.S. Army 1st Lieutenant Ehren K. Watada stepped forward as the first commissioned officer to publicly refuse deployment to the Iraq War and occupation. He faces court martial and up to 4 years imprisonment (reduced from an original 6 years maximum) for refusing to deploy and for speaking out against a war that he believes is illegal.
In support of his courageous action, the Lt. Ehren Watada Campaign is working to educate and broaden the dialog on constitutional rights. The campaign is also involved with mobilizing grassroots action to insure that our government upholds Lt. Watada's right to speak out and refuse to participate in illegal military action in Iraq.

Help us educate and mobilize others by signing the petition and making a donation to the Lt Watada defense fund.

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