Protestors Speak Out in Support of Soldier Facing Court Martial - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

05/19/04

Protestors Speak Out in Support of Soldier Facing Court Martial

Supporters want the military to give the soldier conscientious objector status. Supporters want the military to give the soldier conscientious objector status.

A court martial is scheduled to begin today at Fort Stewart for a Florida National Guardsman charged with desertion. But the trial is sparking protest in Hinesville in Liberty County. Members of the group, Code Pink Women for Peace are supporting the actions of SSgt. Camilo Mejia.

The 28-year-old was serving in Iraq and last fall returned home for a two-week furlough. But he never went back to duty. In March, he turned himself in at Fort Stewart.

He says he doesn't want to fight in what he calls an "oil-driven war." The more than two dozen supporters, including his relatives, want the military to approve his conscientious objector status and set him free.

"We need the support of everyone," said Norma Castillo, Mejia's aunt. "We believe that Camilo is a hero and we hope Camilo's action helps all the soldiers who may be thinking or afraid to speak out."

Mejia said he was upset over his experiences in Iraq. He says superiors forced him to commit prisoner abuse.

Reported by: Chris Cowperthwaite, ccowperthwaite@wtoc.com

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