Watada’s latest appeal still pending
What is the status of the court-martial of 1st Lt. Ehren Watada, who faced an Army court-martial for refusing to deploy to Iraq in 2006?
Answer: "No real news," reports his civilian attorney Ken Keagan, since the federal judge issued a preliminary injunction in November prohibiting the Army from bringing Watada to a second court-martial. Watada's first court-martial, a year ago, ended in a mistrial. Watada and his attorney claim that a second trial would violate his constitutional rights. U.S. District Judge Benjamin Settle ruled on Nov. 8 that no court-martial will be held for Watada pending the outcome of his claim that it would violate his Fifth Amendment rights by trying him twice for the same charges.
The Army Court of Criminal Appeals has ruled that Watada, a 1996 Kalani High School graduate, can be court-martialed again, but Watada appealed that decision to the U.S. Circuit Court for the Armed Forces.
Watada contends the war is illegal and that he would be party to war crimes if he served in Iraq.
Watada is charged with missing his unit's deployment to Iraq in June 2006 and with conduct unbecoming an officer for denouncing President Bush and the war. Since then his Stryker brigade combat team has returned to Fort Lewis in Washington.
Conviction on all counts could mean nearly eight years in prison and a dishonorable discharge.
Watada's term of service in the military ended in December 2006, but the legal proceedings have prevented his discharge. He lives in Olympia, Wash., and continues to perform administrative duties at Fort Lewis, south of Seattle.
This update was written by Gregg K. Kakesako.
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