German soldier refuses to develop software for Iraq

German soldier is allowed to keep rank after refusing to develop software for possible use in Iraq war.

A soldier in the German military's IT division, demoted for refusing to obey an order to develop software for possible use in the Iraq war, has been cleared in court.

The Federal Administrative Court in Leipzig, Germany, ruled Wednesday in favour of the soldier, ranking his freedom of conscience higher than the command of a superior.

The soldier, whose name was not publicly revealed, argued that his conscience would not allow him to develop software that could be used -- either directly or indirectly -- in a war he viewed as a violation of international law. He claimed his superior could not guarantee that the software he was developing would not be used in Iraq by German forces stationed in Kuwait, or German soldiers flying in AWACS (Airborne Warning and Control System) surveillance airplanes or even by U.S. forces stationed in Germany.

The soldier, formerly a major in the German armed forces, was demoted to the rank of captain. The military disciplinary council had also sought his removal from the armed forces altogether.

The German government refused to commit armed forces to the U.S.-led war in Iraq.

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