Two years ago, the U.S. Congress
gave the military the authority to prosecute civilian contractors, using
military law, for felonies committed in a combat zone. Now, the first civilian
defendant is facing such a trial. This is the first time this has happened
since the Vietnam war (where the military improvised, but later had convictions
overturned by U.S. Supreme Court.) The defendant is a Iraqi-Canadian
translator, who stabbed another civilian during an argument last February, in a
U.S. base 138 kilometers west of Baghdad. The victim survived, but the
defendant is being court martialed for assault, just as any soldier would be.
Lawyers round the world are debating the legality of all this, agreeing only
that perpetrators should be brought to justice some way or another.