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Sunday, October 16, 2005

UK officer faces court-martial for opposing Iraq war
Jaime Jansen at 4:37 PM ET

[JURIST] A British Royal Air Force [official website] medical officer has become the first member of the UK military to face criminal charges for disobeying a lawful command because he refused to fight in Iraq, claiming the war there is illegal. Flight-Lieutenant Malcolm Kendall-Smith, decorated from operations in Afghanistan and two previous tours in Iraq, will be court-martialed at a military base in front of a senior judge and at least five high ranking officers, without a jury. Preliminary proceedings are expected to start later this year. Kendall-Smith studied the legal position of the war in Iraq after his first two tours there, and subsequently concluded the war was “manifestly unlawful.” A number of international lawyers have claimed there was no legal justification [opinion website] for invading Iraq because the US and Britain did not wait for the UN to pass a second resolution authorizing military force, and even English Attorney General Lord Goldsmith expressed reservations about the war [JURIST report]. Relying on the Royal Air Force manual, Kendall-Smith will argue that a serving officer may refuse to obey commands if an action is unlawful. The Times of London has local coverage.

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