A military judge on Friday essentially wiped out the defense of a U.S. Army medic under courtmartial for refusing to wear a U.N. uniform.
Spc. Michael New, 22, of Conroe, Texas, is the first U.S. soldier to challenge orders to serve under U.N. command. Testimony is scheduled to begin Tuesday before a three-person jury. New faces six months in prison, loss of pay and dishonorable discharge if convicted.
New argues he swore allegiance to the U.S. Constitution, not the United Nations. He asked the judge to let the jury consider the legality of the orders to wear a U.N. uniform, the issue he considers the heart of his defense.
The judge, Lt. Col. W. Gary Jewell, decided Friday that the orders were lawful and restricted the jury to the narrower question of whether New is guilty of disobedience.
New’s lawyer, Henry Hamilton of Columbia, S.C., said the judge had “effectively taken away from us due process for Spc. New.”
New’s case has been taken up by U.S. conservatives opposed to Americans serving under U.N. command. Congressional members have introduced bills that would make it illegal to require a member of the U.S. armed services to wear any U.N. insignia.
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