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UK military judge rules Iraq war legal, orders objector to face court-martial

[JURIST] British Judge Advocate John Bayliss ruled Wednesday that Royal Air Force [official website] Flight Lieutenant Malcolm Kendall-Smith, the first British officer to face criminal charges after challenging the conflict's legality will face a court-martial on five charges of failing to comply with a lawful order. Kendall-Smith [JURIST news archive], a medical officer who had served twice in southern Iraq with British forces, refused deployment to Iraq a third time in June of last year. Kendall-Smith had defended his actions [JURIST report] by saying that because Iraq had not attacked Britain or one of its allies, there was no lawful reason to enter Iraq and he was entitled to disobey "unlawful orders."

Bayliss rejected that argument, saying that two UN Security Council resolutions provided what he called "clear authority by the United Nations Security Council for the presence of British forces" in Iraq, adding that if Kendall-Smith "believed that to go to Basra would make him complicit in the crime of aggression, his understanding of the law was wrong." Kendall-Smith's court-martial is scheduled for April 6. AP has more. The Times of London has local coverage.

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