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STUNNING DEFEAT For Military Prosecutors - Watada Court-Martial Ends in Mistrial

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kpete Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Feb-07-07 05:41 PM
Original message
STUNNING DEFEAT For Military Prosecutors - Watada Court-Martial Ends in Mistrial
Watada Court-Martial Ends in Mistrial
By Scott Galindez and Geoffrey Millard
t r u t h o u t | Report

Wednesday 07 February 2007

Fort Lewis, Washington - The court-martial of First Lt. Ehren Watada, a commissioned US Army officer who refused deployment to Iraq on the basis that he believed the war was illegal, has ended in a mistrial, a military court judge ruled Wednesday.

In a stunning defeat for military prosecutors, Lt. Col. John Head, the military judge presiding over Watada's court-martial, said he had no choice but to declare a mistrial because military prosecutors and Watada's defense attorney could not reach an agreement regarding the characterization of a stipulation agreement Watada signed before the start of his court-martial. The government characterizes the stipulation agreement as an admission of guilt by Watada for "missing movement" and making statements against the Iraq war that resulted in charges of conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman.

Eric Seitz, Watada's attorney, said the stipulation Watada signed, however, was by no means an admission of guilt by his client. Rather, it was a statement of fact that his client believed the Iraq war was illegal, and that he refused to deploy to the region with his unit because of his beliefs.

Lt. Col. Head said he wanted to question Watada regarding the agreement to gain a better understanding of what Watada's state of mind was when he signed it, but Seitz would not allow the judge to question his client unless he knew the questions in advance. Head said if he could not question Watada to ensure the accuracy of the document he signed prior to the start of the court-martial, he would have to throw out the agreement, meaning the charges against Watada would become null and void.

more at:
http://www.truthout.org/docs_2006/020707Z.shtml
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meldroc Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Feb-07-07 05:44 PM
Response to Original message
1. Watada is NOT off the hook!
Just so you know, another trial will be scheduled very shortly. And chances are good that Watada still won't be allowed to assert the defense that he refused an illegal order.

Given the publicity behind this case, don't be surprised if Bush and the .mil decide to make an example out of Watada.
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rainy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Feb-07-07 05:50 PM
Response to Reply #1
2. Then we the people should make an example too. We should make plans to
back him in large numbers if needed.
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Kagemusha Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Feb-07-07 05:50 PM
Response to Reply #1
3. At least they can't say 'and see, he's admitted guilt, he just wants exotic defenses'
They'll have to earn a conviction.
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karlrschneider Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Feb-07-07 05:54 PM
Response to Reply #3
5. But they will 'earn' it. They can't afford not to.
Losing as prosecutors would wreck the whole military-industrial apparatus and their ability to
wage illegal wars and make certain people very very wealthy. :grr:
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Kagemusha Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Feb-07-07 05:56 PM
Response to Reply #5
6. I laugh, but I also accept your point in all seriousness.
It's right along those lines, yeah. Military logic.

And damn, the dirt's come out these last few days on that military-industrial apparatus. If only the administration cared about winning on the battlefield as much as victory for contractors.
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mtnester Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Feb-07-07 05:52 PM
Response to Original message
4. I am frankly stunned...although I realize there will; be a retrial
this is not what I expected at all from (I agree with Randy Rhodes on this) kangaroo sham. Watada was reduced to no witnesses and literally his defense was disallowed. He had only himself to testify and present as evidence.

Stunned.
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stevedeshazer Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Feb-07-07 06:37 PM
Response to Original message
7. Astonishing news
The press had Lt. Watada tried and convicted.
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Crabby Appleton Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Feb-07-07 07:03 PM
Response to Original message
8. Truthout has it wrong, the charges do not become null & void
this is not a defeat of the prosecution nor a victory for the defense. The trial is rescheduled for March 12 and the prosecution may reinstate previously dropped charges. You may recall that Lyndie England had her guilty plea tossed out by the judge and declared a mistrial and a new trial scheduled. It's just really just a technicality that buys Lt Watada another month of freedom.
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Monk06 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Feb-07-07 07:46 PM
Response to Original message
9. On the 'other' website a knowledgeable poster pointed out .......

That military courts do not accept confessions in
evidence.

The facts in evidence included Watada's claim that
he was innocent. The prosecution viewed the stipulation
agreement (facts in evidence) as an admission of guilt
In other words a confession.

They did this to avoid the legality of the war becoming
an issue in the trial

Now their stuck in a Catch 22. Watada's missing movement
admissions are not in themselves sufficient to establish
guilt as to the charges.

In the next trial the prosecution will have to allow Watada's
state of mind regarding the legality of the war as a mitigating
factor.

They blew it big time.
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