Sailor Is Charged by Navy
By Tony Perry, Los Angeles Times, March 26, 2005
SAN DIEGO - The Navy announced Friday that it planned to court-martial a sailor, now a vocal member of the antiwar movement, who refused deployment to the Persian Gulf because he opposed the U.S. mission in Iraq.
Petty Officer 3rd Class Pablo Eduardo Paredes will face charges of being absent without leave and missing his ship, the Navy said.
Paredes, 23, refused to board the amphibious assault ship Bonhomme Richard when it left Dec. 6 for the Persian Gulf. The vessel is part of an armada guarding the Iraqi oil platforms in the northern gulf.
Paredes said Friday that he was not surprised at the Navy's action and was prepared to go to prison. "I knew what I was getting into," he said. "Mentally, I'm prepared for what will happen. I cannot aid or abet a war that is illegal and immoral."
While awaiting trial, Paredes has been assigned janitorial duties at the 32nd Street Naval Station in San Diego. By training, he is a weapons-control technician.
Paredes, a native of New York City, enlisted in 2000 and has 17 months remaining on his contract with the Navy. After the Bonhomme Richard departed, he applied for conscientious objector status. He has since joined the antiwar movement and is to be a featured speaker next week at a Democracy Now rally in Los Angeles.
Few San Diego-based sailors or Marines have refused service in Iraq as part of a protest, officials say.
Paredes' attorney, Jeremy Warren, said his client was within his rights to refuse an order to be part of an illegal war. The lawyer said Paredes and his supporters looked forward "to an opportunity to present his defense and resolve these charges so that he can move on with his life."
If convicted of both charges, he faces a maximum sentence of one year in custody and a bad-conduct discharge.