Watada court-martial is now
set for 9 Oct. 2007
FORT LEWIS -- The second court-martial of 1st Lt. Ehren Watada, a Fort Lewis U.S. Army officer who refused to go to Iraq with his unit a year ago, has been rescheduled to Oct. 9.
Watada's trial, originally slated to begin next Monday, was postponed at the request of government and defence lawyers. His first trial earlier this year ended in a mistrial. If convicted, Watada faces a maximum of six years in prison and a dishonourable discharge.
Watada became a lightning rod for the peace movement in June 2006 when he refused to deploy for a year to Iraq with the 3rd Stryker Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division. He said the war is illegal. He is charged with missing deployment to Iraq with his unit, and conduct unbecoming an officer for four comments he made publicly about the war in Iraq and President Bush.
After his first trial, Watada in April acquired new civilian lawyers, James Lobsenz and Kenneth Kagan of Carney Badley Spellman in Seattle. Lobsenz and Kagan are arguing that the constitutional prohibition against double jeopardy, or being tried twice for the same crimes, prevents him from being court-martialed again. The lawyers are appealing to the Army Court of Criminal Appeals.
Watada continues to work in an administrative position at Fort Lewis. The 3rd Stryker Brigade with which he refused to deploy is slated to begin returning home from Iraq just before his trial begins, after a 15-month deployment.