Soldier who refused to serve in
Afghanistan loses appeal
By Kim Sengupta, Defence Correspondent,
The Independent, Thursday, 22 April
soldier who had refused to serve in Afghanistan "for reasons of
principle" has lost his appeal against a nine-month jail sentence.
Lance Corporal Joe Glenton's legal team
had claimed that he was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder
after a deployment to Helmand four years ago and it had been "wrong in
principle" to have imposed an immediate custodial sentence on him.
Instead, the court was urged either to suspend it or reduce it to allow
for his release.
The case had become a cause célèbre for
the campaign against the Afghan war, with public rallies being held in
support of L/Cpl Glenton from York. Before his court martial, L/Cpl
Glenton said Taliban forces and the British Army were simply "grinding
each other down".
"I don't believe our cause is just," he
said. "I think it's adversely affecting the Afghan people as well as the
British Army and their families. I think it has become part of the
problem rather than the solution."
The trial had heard that L/Cpl Glenton,
of the Royal Logistic Corps, was promoted because of the "exemplary" way
he carried out his duties during his previous Afghan tour and that his
stance was based on deeply held beliefs rather than an excuse to shirk
Yesterday the Court of Appeal, sitting
in London, ruled that his sentence was neither excessive nor wrong in
principle. Announcing the decision, Lord Judge said the "crucial matter
in this sentencing decision was the impact of the absence of the
individual member of service personnel on the operational effectiveness
of the unit".
He went on: "The individual who goes
absent without leave and so deliberately avoids his duties – when his
duty is to be posted to a theatre of war – is not only letting down his
comrades-in-arms and undermining their morale generally; his conduct
exposes another serviceman or woman sent to replace him to the risks
that he is avoiding.
"That is the essential feature of this
case. This is not a case of a conscientious objector."
L/Cpl Glenton, who had so far served 75
days of his sentence, had gone absent without leave just before his
scheduled second deployment to Helmand. He handed himself in after two
years and six days' absence during which time he had travelled to
South-east Asia and Australia.