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Judge blocks testimony on Iraq war illegality at court-martial of protesting officer

[JURIST] The US military judge in the court-martial of 1st Lt. Ehren Watada [advocacy website; JURIST news archive] prohibited international and constitutional law scholars from testifying Monday about the legality of the war. Watada faces charges of missing movement and conduct unbecoming an officer for his refusal to be deployed [JURIST report] to Iraq with his unit in June 2006. Last month, the judge ruled that Watada may not argue the legality of the war [JURIST report] as part of his defense. Watada's attorney, Eric Seitz, also said he will call Watada, a character witness, and an Army captain to testify. The Washington Times has more.

Watada, a 28-year-old Honolulu native who is the first commissioned officer in the US military to publicly refuse deployment to Iraq, refuses to be classified as a conscientious objector because he does not object to war in general, just to the "illegal" war in Iraq. He offered to serve in Afghanistan, but the US Army refused this request. His vocal protests and participation in rallies by Veterans for Peace [advocacy website] and Courage to Resist [advocacy website] led to the charges of conduct unbecoming an officer as well as the original charge of contempt toward officials.

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