Court martial for British officer who rejected 'illegal' Iraq war
LONDON (AFP) Oct 16, 2005
A Royal Air Force doctor will become the first British officer to face a court martial for refusing to return to Iraq because he thought the war was illegal, a newspaper reported on Sunday.
Preliminary proceedings are due to begin against Flight-Lieutenant Malcolm Kendall-Smith this year for "disobeying a lawful command", The Sunday Times said, citing his lawyer.
The medical officer -- who was born in Australia, brought up in New Zealand and has dual British-New Zealand citizenship -- may even end up in prison.
Kendall-Smith, 37, had been decorated for his role in Afghanistan and in two previous tours in Iraq, according to the weekly newspaper.
But after studying the legal advice of Lord Peter Goldsmith, Britain's Attorney General, he decided it would be wrong to return.
His lawyer, Justin Hugheston-Roberts, told The Sunday Times that Kendall-Smith did not object to fighting so long as the cause was legal.
"This is the first case of its kind involving Iraq," he said.
"My client has considered this very carefully and in great depth. He is not arguing that he is a conscientious objector. He is arguing that the war is manifestly unlawful," said Hugheston-Roberts.
The newspaper also spoke to a colleague of Kendall-Smith's who indicated that the officer was prepared to go to jail.
"When he first went to the Gulf in 2003, his awareness of the legal position was far less than it is now," the anonymous colleague told The Sunday Times.
"He is now in no doubt that the war was illegal and that the government has spun its position on the evidence. He takes the view that this is something which is worth going to prison for," the colleague said.
Kendall-Smith was suspended on full pay after being interviewed by the Royal Military Police in June, The Sunday Times said. He was charged on October 5.
A spokeswoman at the Ministry of Defence confirmed that an RAF officer was due to appear before a court martial at a date to be confirmed.
"He will be charged with four counts of disobeying a lawful command," she said. "It is an offence in accordance with the RAF Act 1945 not to comply with orders."All rights reserved. © 2005 Agence France-Presse. Sections of the information displayed on this page (dispatches, photographs, logos) are protected by intellectual property rights owned by Agence France-Presse. As a consequence, you may not copy, reproduce, modify, transmit, publish, display or in any way commercially exploit any of the content of this section without the prior written consent of Agence France-Presse.