RAF doctor who refused Iraq under home detention

By Kim Sengupta, Charlotte Reeve

LONDON - An RAF doctor sentenced to eight months imprisonment for refusing to serve in Iraq has been released from jail and put under house detention.

New Zealand-born Flight Lieutenant Malcolm Kendall-Smith, who has been tagged and placed under a curfew, has lodged an appeal against his conviction and sentence at the Court of Appeal.

A group of celebrities, including actor Simon Callow, film director Ken Loach designer Vivienne Westwood took part in a fund raising event for Flt Lt Kendall-Smith who is no longer entitled to legal aid.

The RAF doctor had spent his period of incarceration in a closed high security prison, Chelmsford, instead of being transferred to an open prison as was the general expectation including that of Ministry of Defence officials.

Flt Lt Kendall-Smith's solicitor, Justin Hugheston-Roberts, said no explanation has been given about why he was kept in Chelmsford. An RAF colleague of the doctor described the decision to do so as " an act of pure spite."

Speaking for the first time since being found guilty at a court martial, Flt Lt Kendall-Smith remained defiant.

He said: "Do not believe government propaganda, the continuing use of force against the people of the formerly independent state of Iraq is motivated by political corruption, corporate profits and aggressive capitalism".

In a video message to his supporters the doctor continued: " Thank you so much all of you who have shown me so much support in my stand in defence of the law, truth, justice and humanity.

"You do live in a democratic state and resistance against tyranny is not futile. We, you and I, are the people of the United Nations. Let us all demonstrate the humanity which our leaders fail to exhibit.

"God bless all members of the human race including our brothers and sisters who are the people of the former sovereign state of Iraq."

Flt Lt Kendall-Smith was the first member of the armed forces to be charged with disobeying orders to deploy in Iraq.

The doctor, a former university tutor of moral philosophy, repeatedly said during his court martial, at Aldershot barracks, that he believed the invasion of Iraq to be illegal.

At an earlier hearing Assistant Judge Advocate Jack Bayliss had ruled the doctor could not use the defence that in refusing military orders he had acted according to his conscience.

The judge maintained that the US and British forces were now in Iraq at the invitation of the Iraqi government.

The case of Flt Lt Kendall-Smith became a cause celebre among anti-war groups with thousands of messages of support on his website.

Another member of the forces', SAS soldier Ben Griffin, resigned because, he said, he was not prepared to serve again in Iraq because of the way that American troops brutalised Iraqi civilians.

Nearly 3000 British soldiers have gone absent without leave since the start of the Iraq war and more than a thousand of them are still missing.

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