Hearing under way for American war resister
seeking refuge in Canada

Associated Press

The Canadian government began hearing arguments Monday by an American soldier who fled a North Carolina military base after refusing to participate in the war in Iraq and is now seeking refugee status in Canada.

Jeremy Hinzman, 25, was appearing before the Immigration and Refugee Board, claiming that the war in Iraq is illegal and he would be breaking the law by participating.

"Our whole case hinges on that," Hinzman said in July, after fleeing Fort Bragg, N.C., in January. He how lives in Toronto with his wife and young son.

"If I was going to go shoot depleted uranium rounds at Iraqi children, or into the Iraqi ground and raise the cancer rates, then that is contrary to good standards of human conduct," he said.

Immigration and Refugee Board officials have said that Hinzman needs to distinguish between persecution and prosecution, the latter of which he would definitely face if he goes back to the United States.

Hinzman will also have to explain why he joined the U.S. Army when he knew combat might be a possibility. A member of the 2nd Battalion of the 504th Brigade Parachute Infantry Regiment,

Hinzman could be prosecuted as a deserter if sent back to the United States.

Hinzman was serving in Afghanistan when his application to be a conscientious objector was denied. He had said he wanted to fulfill his service obligation but not to participate in combat.

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