Posted on: Wednesday, August 16, 2006
Watada backers rally before hearing
By Robert ShikinaAdvertiser Staff Writer
The pre-trial hearing for Army 1st Lt. Ehren Watada, who two months ago refused to deploy to Iraq, begins tomorrow in Fort Lewis, Wash.
During Watada's Article 32 hearing, an investigative officer will determine if the evidence is sufficient to proceed to a court-martial. Eric Seitz, Watada's attorney, said the hearing will include testimony from three witnesses for Watada and one witness for the Army.
"My expectation is they're going to act on it relatively quickly, and I will be getting a call next week from a military judge who wants to set up dates for a trial," Seitz said.
Watada refused on June 7 to deploy to Iraq, maintaining in a letter to the Army that — according to international law — the war in Iraq is illegal.
He is charged with one count of missing movement, two counts of contempt toward officials, and three counts of conduct unbecoming an officer.
Interfaith Alliance Hawai'i held a rally yesterday in support of Watada at the state Capitol. Joan Chatfield, of the faith-based organizations network, said the group unflinchingly supports Watada's stance.
Watada's mother, Carolyn Ho, said she has received 188 letters of support from around the nation — from bishops, pastors, chaplains, lay people and veterans.
The maximum penalty Watada faces is a dishonorable discharge, forfeiture of all pay and allowances, and seven years confinement.
Watada's witnesses at tomorrow's hearing include: Francis Boyle, a law professor at the University of Illinois; Denis Halliday, the former under-secretary of the United Nations, who also served over a number of programs dealing with Iraq; and Ann Wright, a former Army colonel. She will testify about the Army's training of officers and their obligations to international law.
Reach Robert Shikina at email@example.com.