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Briton Opposed to War Is Convicted

Military court sentences air force doctor to eight months for refusing to return to Iraq.

April 14, 2006|From the Associated Press

LONDON — A military court Thursday found a British air force doctor guilty of disobeying orders after he challenged the legality of the war in Iraq, and he was sentenced to eight months in prison and dismissed from the service.

Flight Lt. Malcolm Kendall-Smith, who said U.S. actions in Iraq were on par with those of Nazi Germany, was convicted by a panel of Royal Air Force officers after a three-day court-martial.

Kendall-Smith, 37, had served twice in southern Iraq with British forces, but refused to return a third time in June because he said he was not prepared to take part in an "act of aggression."

He had pleaded not guilty to five charges of failing to comply with a lawful order after refusing last year to deploy to the southern city of Basra.

Kendall-Smith's lawyer, Philip Sapsford, had argued that because Iraq had not attacked Britain or one of its allies, there was no lawful reason to invade. The officer was therefore entitled to disobey the "unlawful" orders, the attorney said.

Prosecutors argued that the charges pertained to 2005, long after the invasion.

Prosecutor David Perry told the court that since May 2003, coalition forces in Iraq were operating under the authority of a U.N. Security Council mandate and at the invitation of Iraq's provisional government.

In a preliminary ruling, Judge Advocate John Bayliss said British forces had justification to operate in Iraq under U.N. resolutions at the time the charges were filed in June and July 2005.

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