Experts prepare for Watada case
Two experts on international law will testify on the legality of the current Iraqi war at a pretrial hearing this week for 1st Lt. Ehren Watada.
The hearing could help determine if Watada becomes the first Army officer to face a court-martial for refusing to deploy to Iraq.
Attorney Eric Seitz said he also plans to call retired Army Col. Ann Wright, who will testify about pertinent issues dealing with his client's refusal to go to Iraq.
The pretrial Article 32 hearing, which is similar to a preliminary hearing in civilian criminal proceedings, will be held Thursday at Fort Lewis, Wash., and is expected to last a day.
Watada refused to go to Iraq because he believes the war is unlawful, immoral and "a breach of American law."
"The invasion and the continued fight against an indigenous insurgency are unlawful" because they violate the United Nations Charter and the Nuremberg Tribunal Charter, the 28-year-old maintains.
Seitz said he also plans to call Francis Boyle, a University of Illinois international law professor, who will testify about the legality of the war; and Denis Halliday, a former U.N. assistant secretary-general, who will present evidence on the same subject.
Seitz also plans to present two friend-of-the-court briefs at the hearing, including one from the American Civil Liberties Union.
For refusing to join his 3rd Stryker Combat Brigade Team on June 22 when it left Fort Lewis, Watada, a 1996 Kalani High School graduate, is charged with missing a movement, contempt toward officials and conduct unbecoming an officer.
Seitz said conviction could lead to a maximum jail sentence of 7 1/2 years, dishonorable discharge and forfeiture of all pay and allowances. A hearing officer will determine if Watada will face a court-martial.
An artillery officer with 5th Battalion, 20th Infantry Regiment, Watada has been reassigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Company, I Corps.
Since the beginning of the year, Watada has offered to resign his Army commission three times, and has said he would accept a dishonorable discharge and reprimand rather than face a court-martial. He said that he is not a conscientious objector and would be willing to serve a combat assignment in Afghanistan.