[Marxism] RAF doctor jailed for refusing to serve in Iraq

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Thu Apr 13 07:15:13 MDT 2006


RAF doctor jailed over Iraq refusal

Staff and agencies
Guardian Unlimited
Thursday April 13, 2006

An RAF doctor was jailed for eight months today after being found guilty by 
a court martial today of failing to comply with lawful orders to serve in Iraq.

Flight Lieutenant Malcolm Kendall-Smith, 37, who likened the invasion of 
Iraq to a Nazi war crime, was convicted by a panel of five RAF officers on 
five charges including refusing to serve in Basra. He will also be 
dismissed from the service.

Mr Kendall-Smith, who has dual British and New Zealand citizenship and is 
based at RAF Kinloss in Morayshire, Scotland, had argued at the court that 
the on-going presence of US-led forces in Iraq was illegal.

He told the military hearing in Aldershot, Hants, that he refused to serve 
in Basra, Iraq, last July because he did not want to be complicit with an 
"act of aggression" contrary to international law.

"I have evidence that the Americans were on a par with Nazi Germany with 
its actions in the Persian Gulf. I have documents in my possession which 
support my assertions," he told the court. "This is on the basis that 
on-going acts of aggression in Iraq and systematically applied war crimes 
provide a moral equivalent between the US and Nazi Germany."

Mr Kendall-Smith, who tutored in philosophy at a New Zealand university, 
added that he refused to take part in training and equipment fitting prior 
to the deployment because he believed these were "preparatory acts which 
were equally criminal as the act itself".

Following his sentencing to a military jail, Mr Kendall-Smith's solicitor, 
Justin Hugheston-Roberts, said his client was "shocked" and "distressed" by 
the judgment. The RAF doctor would appeal against the conviction and 
sentencing, he added.

"He has asked me to say that he feels now more than ever that his 
conviction was justified. He said this still has a long way to travel and 
he will now concentrate his efforts on that task," Mr Hugheston-Roberts said.

During the hearing, David Perry, prosecuting, said the case against Mr 
Kendall-Smith was that the orders were lawful and he had a duty to obey 
them as a commissioned officer.

He added that the question of the invasion of Iraq was irrelevant because 
it occurred prior to the charges, which date back to last year. And he said 
that at the time of the charges, the presence of coalition forces in Iraq 
was unquestionably legal because they were there at the request of the 
country's democratically-elected government.

The charges faced by Mr Kendall-Smith are that on June 1 2005 he failed to 
comply with a lawful order to attend RAF Kinloss, Moray, for pistol and 
rifle training, failed on June 6 2005 to attend a helmet fitting, and 
between June 12 and 24 2005 failed to attend a training course.

He also denies failing to comply with an order to attend a deployment 
briefing at RAF Lyneham on June 30 2005 and failing to comply with an order 
to replace a squadron leader for Operation Telic in Basra, Iraq, on July 12 
2005.

Mr Kendall-Smith told the court that he considered the war in Iraq to be 
the equivalent of an "imperial invasion and occupation". He said he was 
extremely disturbed by America's "imperial campaign of military conquest", 
which was in direct conflict with his duties.

He added: "It struck me as incongruous and disturbing that the US air force 
published the phrase 'global power for America' on their documentation 
during the conflict. I found that the phrase 'global power for America' was 
imperial."

Mr Kendall-Smith denied he had refused the order because he did not want to 
be posted overseas.

Philip Sapsford, defending, said that Mr Kendall-Smith followed in the 
footsteps of the Anzac soldiers from Australia and New Zealand who joined 
the Allied forces in the two world wars by joining the RAF in August 2000.

"I have the honour to present to you an officer of impeccable character. He 
has an exemplary record. He served Her Majesty the Queen and her country 
not once, not twice but three times," he said. "He could have followed an 
easier route, the conscientious objector route, but he had not chosen to go 
down that route. He could have and would have been deployed anywhere in the 
world."

Mr Sapsford also read to the court the words of the late Robin Cook to the 
House of Commons when he resigned his post as Foreign Secretary. He said 
that Mr Kendall-Smith agreed with Mr Cook's position that the invasion of 
Iraq did not have the approval of the ruling international bodies of the UN 
and Nato.

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