Soldier To Plead Not Guilty To Desertion
03 August 2009
A soldier who refuses to return to active
duty in Afghanistan has indicated he will plead not guilty to
the charge of desertion.
Lance Corporal Joe Glenton faced
court martial today at Bulford Military Court Centre in
Salisbury, Wiltshire. He did not enter a formal plea, but
defence lawyer Hugh O'Donoghue said the soldier would deny the
single charge against him. Mr O'Donoghue also told the court he
may call an expert witness to give evidence on the lawfulness of
service and current operations in Afghanistan. Military
prosecutor Captain Gemma Sayer added they were considering
another charge connected to the alleged desertion. A preliminary date of September 4
was set for trial.
The soldier last week
handed in a letter to 10 Downing Street in which he
explained to the
Prime Minister why he believed politicians were wasting
soldiers' lives in an unjustified war. "The war in Afghanistan
is not reducing the terrorist risk, far from improving Afghan
lives it is bringing death and devastation to their country,"
the letter read. "Britain has no business there. I do not
believe that our cause in Afghanistan is just or right."
However, the Armed Forces Minister is expected to argue that
Britain's military commitment in
Afghanistan serves the country's security interests by
reducing the risk of terror attacks in the UK. L Cpl Glenton,
who is also a member of Stop The War Coalition, is the first British soldier to speak out
publicly against the war in Afghanistan. The 27-year-old joined
the Army in 2004, but became disillusioned after the Nimrod
crash in 2006. After going Awol in 2007, he handed himself in
after two years and six days. His court martial comes after
hints from David Cameron that the Conservatives would be ready to
consider requests for additional troops in Afghanistan. He said
there was a "very strong case" for sending more forces to the
country to help with the training of a home-grown national army.
Joe Glenton and wife Clare