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UK officer tests Iraq war illegality defense in military hearing

[JURIST] A lawyer for Flight Lieutenant Malcolm Kendall-Smith, a medical officer in the UK's Royal Air Force [official website], argued in a pre-trial military hearing Wednesday that his client was entitled to say in a court-martial defense against five charges of failing to comply with an order [JURIST report] to serve in Iraq that the Iraq war was illegal. Kendall-Smith has maintained that his refusal to attend preliminary training and briefings stemmed from his beliefs that since no attack by Iraq on the UK or one of its allies was imminent, the war was legally impermissible and he could not be compelled to go.

Kendall-Smith's defense lawyer stressed that although Kendall-Smith would have taken a non-combatant role, serving as a doctor, he believed he would have been asked to supervise legally ambiguous situations such as prisoner interrogations. Prosecutors asserted that the legal questions surrounding the invasion of Iraq were irrelevant as the case should center only around the official orders given to Kendall-Smith. A ruling by a military judge advocate is expected before the scheduled beginning of Kendall-Smith's court-martial on April 6. Reuters has more. The Independent has local coverage.

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