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DARMSTADT, Germany — A 3rd Corps Support Command soldier was sentenced Monday to seven months’ confinement for willfully disobeying orders after being found guilty at a court-martial at Cambrai-Fritsch Casern.

Spc. Blake Anthony Lemoine, 23, with the 596th Maintenance Company on Kelley Barracks, testified that from January through February, he decided he would just sit at a desk near the commander’s office instead of working, a decision he made after grappling with personal and religious issues against the war in Iraq.

“I had difficulty living with myself as a hypocrite,” Lemoine said during the sentencing phase of the hearing.

He explained that while deployed to Iraq from May 2003 to May 2004, he realized he did not like working with U.S. Army troops. He claimed that racism is widespread in the military, with troops encouraged by command to treat civilian Arabs poorly. He also described several accounts of animal cruelty and derogatory name-calling.

A pagan priest, the Louisiana native said, “I realized the sermons I gave were in direct conflict with what the United States military practices.”

By trade, Lemoine is a power generator maintenance and repair technician. However, he was moved over to supply to help out the understaffed section. Lemoine’s work strike began after sending his chain of command a letter announcing all the reasons he should be allowed to quit the Army, including his religious beliefs and rituals. But the Army determined that he did not meet the requirements as a conscientious objector.

In his letter, Lemoine also said that he has a non-monogamous relationship with his wife — he is bisexual, which is against Army policy.

Since he began his strike, Lemoine said he has accepted no military benefits.

“I have received no benefits other than those that, oddly enough, have been forced upon me,” he said. “I have not received any money in my bank account since January.”

After 30 minutes of deliberating, Judge (Col.) Denise Lind sentenced Lemoine to seven months in jail, which was one month longer than the prosecution recommended. She also ordered him reduced to the lowest enlisted rank and given a bad-conduct discharge.

After the trial, Lemoine said he would continue a hunger strike he began earlier this month to protest having to remain in the Army.

Alayna Lemoine said the Army was targeting her husband by not granting him conscientious objector status.

“If we were any other mainstream religion, the Army would not be doing this. They wouldn’t do this to a Jew or Christian,” she said. “It’s a vendetta against pagans. They can’t burn us, so they shut us up.”


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