Lance Corporal Joe Glenton has been sentenced to nine months in prison
A hero of the anti-war movement has been jailed for refusing to fight in Afghanistan – while his boss boasted of writing a blank cheque for the illegal Iraq invasion.
Lance Corporal Joe Glenton was sentenced to nine months in prison and had his rank reduced after admitting going absent without leave (awol) from the army.
But even as he was being handed his jail time an unrepentant Prime Minister Gordon Brown told the Chilcott inquiry that the war in Iraq “was the right decision and for the right reasons.”
A Stop the War Coalition spokesman hit out at the sentence saying: “Joe Glenton is not the person who should be facing a jail sentence – it should be the politicians who have led us into disastrous wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“The fact that they are not brings shame to justice in this country.”
L/Cpl Glenton was detained in November after he led a Stop the War demonstration in London where he went against orders and publicly denounced the war.
He originally believed that the troops would bring democracy to Afghanistan and improve women’s rights.
But after serving there his views changed quickly. His lawyer Nick Wrack said: “He began to see that the conflict in Afghanistan was wrong. He spoke out about it, perhaps in a bold fashion.”
Serving in Afghanistan in 2006, L/Cpl Glenton had begun to voice concerns to his superiors about the devastation being caused by Nato forces.
Back in England, he was soon ordered back to the war zone for nine months – despite guidelines saying soldiers should not be redeployed within 18 months.
The court heard that his reluctance to return led to him being bullied by his commanding officer.
L/Cpl Glenton fled for Australia and Asia and did not return until July 2009 when he was accused of desertion – a charge reduced following immense pressure from the anti-war movement.
In Australia he met his wife Clare, who cried yesterday as Mr Wrack read aloud her letter begging the court not to jail her husband.
She was comforted by L/Cpl Glenton’s mother Sue, who said later: “The court barely paid lip service to justice.
“The judge clearly didn’t listen to the arguments or if she did she ignored them. The lawyers are considering an appeal. The Ministry of Defence will be hearing a lot more from me.”
Mr Wrack told the court: “Instead of being dealt with in a sensible way it resulted in the sergeant at the time bullying and intimidating Lance Corporal Glenton.”
Psychiatrist Lars Davidsson told the military court that L/Cpl Glenton may have gone awol because he had post-traumatic stress disorder.
“He told me of how he supplied coffins for the dead servicemen. He had dreams of coffins being lined up.
“He was drinking heavily and having sleeping problems. Sometimes he would have bad dreams and wake up screaming,” Dr Davidsson said.
The MoD refused to comment.