Aren't deserters subject to death sentence?TORONTO - Canada's Immigration and Refugee Board will hear Monday why Jeremy Hinzman, a former paratrooper with the U.S. army, should be granted refugee status in Canada.
Rather than serve in Iraq, Hinzman deserted the army and came to Canada in January seeking sanctuary in a Quaker hall outside Toronto.
He considers the Iraq conflict immoral and illegal and while he refuses to speak his mind until his hearing is over, back in July, Hinzman, 25, put his position into perspective: "My life isn't that significant, but also it's not so worthless as to be killed or to go kill innocent people."
Canada has not granted refugee status to American citizens in the past, but Hinzman's supporters are counting on a precedent in international law to help the American.
Gerry Cordon, a Hinzman supporter, says a soldier who refused to fight in Saddam Hussein's army in the invasion of Kuwait, successfully sought refugee status.
To help his client, Hinzman's lawyer plans to present evidence of a systematic pattern of U.S. war crimes in Iraq, including attacks on civilian population centers, and the torture and murder of prisoners, at Monday's hearing.
The board will also hear eyewitness testimony of the killing of Iraqi civilians from former Marine Sgt. Jimmy Massey.
Massey, who served in Iraq, says he's witnessed instances of civilians being shot – not as a mistake, but with cold deliberation.