Soldier in court accused of desertion

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The Independent Online

An expert witness on the lawfulness of war in Afghanistan could be called to give evidence at the court martial of a soldier who refused to fight.

Lance Corporal Joe Glenton, 27, from the Royal Logistic Corps, faces one charge of desertion for refusing to return to Afghanistan.

He appeared for a preliminary hearing at a military court in Bulford Camp, Salisbury, Wiltshire.

Although he did not enter a formal plea, defence counsel Hugh O'Donoghue indicated he would deny the charge.

Mr O'Donoghue told the court that he may also call an expert witness to give evidence on the lawfulness of service and the current operations in Afghanistan.

Military prosecutor Captain Gemma Sayer said they were considering an additional charge connected to the alleged desertion.

She said L/Cpl Glenton would be interviewed by military police. She also said she would be calling witnesses, mostly sergeants, who are currently serving in Afghanistan and Kuwait.

Medical evidence will also be heard at the court martial.

Judge Advocate Alastair McGrigor adjourned the case for another preliminary hearing to take place on September 4 at 10am.

L/Cpl Glenton, who was wearing military fatigues, did not make a comment as he was escorted to and from the court.

He will now return to normal duties with his regiment at his base in Abingdon, Oxfordshire.

Having joined the Army in 2004, he went Awol in 2007 before handing himself in after two years and six days. He has been on leave until today when he returned to his regiment.

Last week, L/Cpl Glenton, who is from York, handed a letter to Prime Minister Gordon Brown calling for troops to be withdrawn from Afghanistan because he believes the Army's mission will fail.

L/Cpl Glenton, who is a member of the Stop the War Coalition, said the Nimrod crash in 2006 was a key event which left him disillusioned with the war during his first tour of Afghanistan.

His letter to Mr Brown, which was handed in on Thursday, said: "It is my primary concern that the courage and tenacity of my fellow soldiers has become a tool of American foreign policy.

"I believe that, when British military personnel submit themselves to the service of the nation and put their bodies into harm's way, the Government that sends them into battle is obliged to ensure that the cause is just and right."