Saturday, June 21, 2014

Is a reservist's failure to appear for mandatory target practice a minor offense?

Not necessarily, holds the Military Court of Cassation in Switzerland in Auditeur en chef v. Cpl. C.P. (March 14, 2014). Even though he was subject to obligatory service, Cpl. C.P. failed to show up for target practice year after year, starting in 2004. Minor disciplinary action including a suspended 30-day sentence and a SF1,000 fine seemed to have no effect on him. Inexplicably, the trial court (Military Court 1) found that his last failure to appear for target practice remained a minor offense. The Auditeur en chef appealed, and prevailed. The Military Court of Cassation held that "systematic refusal of a noncommissioned officer to perform target practice, which can be done in a few hours, must indeed be treated as a case of ordinary insubordination" for purposes of the Military Criminal Code. "Moreover, by failing to appear for the trial he waived his right to explain; the explanations he gave before the investigating magistrate are unconvincing, nor do they contain favorable elements from the standpoint of his personal circumstances." The case was remanded with instructions to resentence Cpl. C.P. for insubordination (and not to a mere disciplinary punishment) and vacate the suspension of his earlier sentence.

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