CAAF has released its opinion in United States v. Maynulet, which is available here.  CAAF rejects a mistake of law challenge to an Army captain’s shooting of a wounded Iraqi soldier.  The captain maintained that he interpreted a portion of the ROE briefing indicating that that “unnecessary suffering” should be avoided as permitting a mercy killing.  CAAF held that a mistake of law defense is unavailable in this situation and emphasized that the ROE briefing also directed:  “Do not engage anyone who has surrendered or is out of battle due to sickness or wounds.”

Judge Baker wrote for a unanimous court.

4 Responses to “New CAAF opinion”

  1. question says:

    has any other case ever said that an obvious mortal wound is the same thing for LOAC purposes as being hors de combat? not saying Maynulet is wrong, just curious.

  2. Late Bloomer says:

    Interesting…I suppose customary international law holds that being alive, no matter how miserable or short-lived being alive might be, is always preferable to death. In other words, is there a rationale or policy that says that in treating the sick or wounded, we must not place them in a worse state than when we received them? I know of at least one commander who interpreted 5 S’s and a T to mean that, when treating an injured detainee, it would be unlawful for the detainee to remain wtih the capturing unit if there was a reasonable and imminent likelihood that the capturing unit would become engaged.

  3. Mike "No Man" Navarre says:

    LB and question:

    The simple elegance of the Baker opinion is that it doesn’t wade into any of those questions of int’l law (thought Judge Baker is imminently qualified to do so). I am guessing the issues you raise were all briefed by the parties extensively. But, the simplicity and precision of the Maynulet opinion made all of that irrelevatn. I will post an analysis tomorrow because I really think that while not masterful in its analysis of the law or application to the facts of the case, the opinion is one of the more elegant opinions CAAF has issued in years in how it sticks to core MilJus principles and avoids thorny issues that were really unnecessary to the decision.

  4. Late Bloomer says:

    But what would caaflog be without those thorny and unnecessary issues?