Before he was sentenced during the hour long military hearing, he told
the judge he should not be jailed because he posed no threat to anyone.
He said he had remained on post and went to work every day since
refusing to deploy after learning a few months ago that the Army was keeping him beyond his enlistment date. He said he did not use drugs or go absent without
leave, as other soldiers have done to avoid deployment.
He said he did not apply for conscientious objector status because that
requires opposition to all wars, and he does not believe that all war is
"I really had no Army way of being consistent with my conscience," Agosto said. "The courts haven't recognized soldiers' rights to refuse an order they believe to be illegal.... I believe future courts will find that the Afghanistan
war is illegal because it violates international law."
His attorney, James M. Branum, said he plans to appeal for a lesser
sentence on the grounds of legal errors. Agosto gave an unsworn
means cross-examination is not allowed.
But after Agosto spoke, Capt. Theresa Santos, acting as the judge in the
hearing, asked him several questions, including his opinions about the
war before he joined the military.
Agosto said that when he enlisted in 2005, he felt invading Iraq was
wrong but that troops had a mission to complete. He said he began to
oppose the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan after he served a 13-month tour in Iraq, which ended
in late 2007.
Wednesday's proceeding was a summary court martial, in which a soldier's
guilty finding will not show up as a felony conviction if an attorney
does not represent him during the hearing. Branum said he was there to advise Agosto and did
not speak on the record or object to anything.
Earlier, Agosto called one witness to testify on his behalf. Cynthia
Thomas, who said she's been an Army wife for 17 years, said Agosto made
a hard decision to follow his conscience although he would lose his military benefits and
be ostracized by his peers.
"I have not met a soldier with more integrity than Victor Agosto," she
said. "He has served this country in a time of war with honor."