[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Thursday, 7 October, 2004, 09:57 GMT 10:57 UK
Muslim reservist loses Iraq case
LAC Mohisin Khan
LAC Mohisin Khan was based at RAF Honington in Suffolk
A Muslim reservist who refused to take part in the Iraq war has lost a High Court battle over his conviction for going absent without leave.

Leading Aircraftsman Mohisin Khan, 25, was prosecuted by the RAF after refusing to go to Iraq last year.

The Suffolk medic claimed conscientious objection on religious grounds.

He said he did not want to be asked to fight against fellow Muslims and could not condone military action which was not "self-defence".

Mr Khan, from Ipswich, had been mobilised with others last year to return to the regular forces to supplement service personnel in the Iraq war.

A volunteer cannot say that his conscience or religion has been interfered with by the state until he has made it clear in some appropriate and suitably formal way that he is no longer a volunteer
Lord Justice Rix
The court was told Mr Khan held a "genuine and deep belief" that the pending war was wrong and contrary to his religion and there had been interference with his right to conscientious objection.

On Thursday Lord Justice Rix and Mr Justice Forbes, sitting in London, ruled there had been no interference with his rights "by reason of the appellant's recall, arrest, prosecution or conviction".

The judges agreed with the military courts that Mr Khan's conscientious objection to the war was "no defence" to the charge, for which he was sentenced to seven days loss of privileges.

Mr Khan was convicted of going absent without official leave by a military court in March last year, a ruling later upheld by a Summary Appeal Court.

He had reported for duty as ordered in January 2003, but later asked for cancellation of his call-up on compassionate and family grounds. That application was rejected by the RAF in February.

Later that month when Mr Khan was ordered to report to RAF Honington's medical centre, he telephoned a superior officer to announce "that he was not returning to duty because to do so was against his religion".

He was arrested by the Military Police on 5 March.

Entitled to seek discharge

Lord Justice Rix said Mr Khan would have been fully entitled to seek discharge from the RAF reserve on grounds of his conscientious objection under the terms of the Queen's Regulations and it was mysterious that he had not done so at an early stage.

The judge said Mr Khan had had every opportunity to make known his concerns, but had never formally applied to be discharged as a conscientious objector before his arrest and prosecution.

Dismissing Mr Khan's appeal, Lord Justice Rix ruled there could have been no interference with his human rights before he formally informed the RAF of his conscientious objection to the war.

And the judge concluded: "A volunteer cannot say that his conscience or religion has been interfered with by the state until he has made it clear in some appropriate and suitably formal way that he is no longer a volunteer."


SEE ALSO:
Muslim airman challenges RAF fine
19 Jul 04  |  Suffolk
Muslim airman loses Iraq case
01 Oct 03  |  Suffolk
War charge Muslim 'feared hell'
12 Sep 03  |  Suffolk
Muslim appeals over war charge
31 Jul 03  |  Suffolk


RELATED BBC LINKS:

RELATED INTERNET LINKS:
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


PRODUCTS AND SERVICES

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East | South Asia
UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature | Technology | Health
Have Your Say | In Pictures | Week at a Glance | Country Profiles | In Depth | Programmes
Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific