After Mistrial, Army Refiles Charges Against Soldier Who Refused Iraq Duty - NewsOn6.com - Tulsa, OK - News, Weather, Video and Sports - KOTV.com |

After Mistrial, Army Refiles Charges Against Soldier Who Refused Iraq Duty

Updated:
SEATTLE (AP) _ The Army refiled charges Friday against a lieutenant who refused to serve in Iraq, about two weeks after his first court-martial was declared a mistrial.

First Lt. Ehren Watada, 28, who refused to deploy with his unit last June, faces the same allegations he initially faced _ missing movement and conduct unbecoming an officer _ and could be sentenced to a dishonorable discharge and six years in prison if convicted. The Army has not set a date for a second court-martial.

``We're back to square one,'' Fort Lewis spokeswoman Leslie Kaye said.

Watada's first trial began early this month but ended abruptly when the judge, Lt. Col. John Head, said he did not believe the soldier fully understood a pretrial agreement he signed admitting elements of the charges. As part of that agreement, the Army dropped two of the charges against him, lowering his potential sentence to four years.

Watada's attorney, Eric Seitz, said he would seek to have the charges dismissed as a violation of the Constitution's protection against double jeopardy.

``When it's not going well for you, you can't just call a mistrial and start over again,'' Seitz said. ``No matter how much lip service they give to wanting to protect my client's rights, that just doesn't exist in the military courts.''

Fort Lewis spokesman Joseph Piek said double jeopardy did not apply in this case because the first trial was never completed.

Watada faces one charge of missing movement and another of conduct unbecoming of an officer. The latter charge accuses him in four instances of making public statements criticizing the war or President Bush.

Watada freely admitted missing the deployment and making the statements in the pretrial agreement. Before the mistrial was declared, he had planned to take the witness stand to argue that his motives were to avoid committing war crimes by participating in an illegal war.
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