U.S. Navy conscientious objecotr Pablo Paredes was sentenced to three months hard labor May 13 for refusing deployment to the Persian Gulf. He was also demoted from petty officer third class to seaman recruit, the lowest rank in the Navy. His lawyers call it a victory for war resisters around the country. Prosecutors had asked the judge to sentence Paredes to nine months of confinement and a bad conduct discharge. (Democracy Now, May 13)
“This is a huge victory,” said Jeremy Warren, Pablo’s lawyer. “A sailor can show up on a Navy base, refuse in good conscience to board a ship bound for Iraq, and receive no time in jail,” Warren added. Although Pablo is delighted he will not to go jail, he still regrets that he was convicted of a crime. He told the judge at sentencing: “I am guilty of believing this war is illegal. I am guilty of believing war in all forms is immoral and useless, and I am guilty of believing that as a service member I have a duty to refuse to participate in this War because it is illegal.”
“I think that the government has successfully proved that any service member has reasonable cause to believe that the wars in Yugoslavia, Afghanistan and Iraq were illegal,” said Lt. Cmdr. Robert Klant, presiding at Pablo Paredes’ court-martial.
Pablo’s application for conscientious objector status is pending. He has one year of Navy service left. If his C.O. application is granted, he could be released, or receive an administrative discharge. In a worst case scenario, he could be sent back to Iraq. (TruthOut, May 13)
See our last blog post on pending CO cases.