Iraq War news

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

RAF doctor faces court martial over 'illegal war'

Telegraph | News | RAF doctor faces court martial over 'illegal war': "An RAF doctor who refused to serve in Iraq has pleaded not guilty to five charges of failing to comply with a legal order."

Malcolm Kendall-Smith

Flt Lt Dr Malcolm Kendall-Smith is appearing at a court martial in Aldershot, Hants, after refusing to deploy to Basra last year.

The 37-year-old, who has dual British and New Zealand citizenship, denies five charges which relate to his deployment, training and equipment fitting.

He told a pre-trial hearing last month that he refused to go to Iraq because he believed the war was illegal. He had already served two tours of duty in Iraq but refused to return there last June

At that hearing, Kendall-Smith's defence counsel Philip Sapsford QC said the officer believed that because Iraq had not attacked the UK or one of its allies there was no lawful reason to enter Iraq.

On that basis he argued that Kendall-Smith was entitled to disobey the "unlawful" orders.

But Judge Advocate Jack Bayliss ruled at the Aldershot Court Martial Centre, in Hants, that the orders given to Kendall-Smith were lawful and he should face trial.

The Judge Advocate said in his ruling:

"None of the orders given to the defendant in this case was an order to do something which was unlawful."

Judge Advocate Bayliss ruled that four of the five charges related to training prior to deployment, and therefore referred to legal orders given to Kendall-Smith.

He said:

"There can have been no possible illegality in complying with the orders to attend for pistol and rifle training, to attend for a helmet fitting and sizing, or to attend an initial response training course. Those are all activities ancillary to any deployment to an operational theatre."

The Judge Advocate added that UK armed forces had full justification under United Nations resolutions to be in Iraq at the time of the charges, from June to July last year.

The trial is expected to last three days.

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