Can Camilo Mejia Get a Fair Trial?

The first trial in the Abu Gharib prison torture saga concluded with a guilty plea by SPC staff Seargeant Jeremy Spivits.

Spivits was sentenced to one year in prison and a “Bad Conduct Discharge.”

As well, Spivits was ordered to provide evidence against the other low ranking soldiers charged in upcoming show trials meant to demostrate to Democacy-lusting Iraqi’s how we do it here.

Garnering less media attention is the desertion trial of Florida National Guardsman Camilo Mejia, which began on May 19th at Fort Stewart, Georgia.

Mejia, 28, is from North Miami, and an eight year veteran of the Army and National Guard. In March he went on a 15 day leave, never to return.

Mejia did, however, file for conscientious objector status.

In his application, written, as noted by the Miami Herald’s Elaine Del Valle, months before the photos from Abu Gharib surfaced, Mejia said he had witnessed similar acts of torture and abuse of Iraqis held at the Al Assad Air Force base.

Mejia further alleged that many Iraqis, like the hundreds just released at Abu Gharib, were routinely and arbitrarily arrested and held.

In his pre-Abu Gharib CO application, Mejia charged: “Many of these prisoner were arbitratily captured… and what set the combatants apart from the noncombatants could be something as as simple as walking away from a checkpoint.”

Mejia faces a year of hard labor and a possible bad conduct discharge if convicted. He faces a jury consiting of a military judge and fellow soldiers, most of them officers.

Perhaps the Abu Gharib horrors will increase the chances of an acquital. But not likely, especially considering the political background of Mejia’s parents, both of whom served in the Nicaraguan Sandinista govenment in the 1980s.

Indeed, Mejia is the offspring of Carlos Mejia who served as culture minister under the Sandinistas. Carlos Mejia penned the Sandinista National Liberation Front’s national anthem, which, Del Valle, notes, contain the lines, “We struggle against the Yankees, enemies of humanity.”

Mejias has also made it plain that he came to believe that this war was all about oil and profits and not about liberating Iraq from tyranny.

It would be surprising if Mejia’s jurors didn’t look at his stateements as just another way of saying the Yankees are still the enemy of humanity.

JACK McCARTHY lives in Tallahassee Florida. He can be reached at:


Jack McCarthy is a writer in Tallahassee, Florida. He can be reached at