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NATIONAL BRIEFING / SEATTLE

Judge limits war objector's retrial

October 22, 2008|Kim Murphy

An Army lieutenant who faced court-martial for refusing to fly with his unit to Iraq won a partial reprieve when a federal judge ruled he could not be retried on the most serious charge against him.

The ruling by U.S. District Judge Benjamin H. Settle concluded that a new court-martial on the issue of 1st Lt. Ehren Watada's failure to board a plane to Iraq would constitute double jeopardy, after his earlier court-martial ended in a mistrial.

Watada argued that taking part in the U.S. military action in Iraq would make him a party to war crimes.

An Army judge still could decide to retry Watada on charges stemming from his appearance at a news conference, but those charges do not carry as significant a penalty, said Watada's lawyer, James Lobsenz.

Military officials said they had not had a chance to review the ruling.

-- Kim Murphy

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