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Soldier tells court martial he didn't hit his sergeant

A SOLDIER has been charged with assaulting a superior while on a peacekeeping mission in Kosovo.

Cpl Paul McQuillan, of the 7th Infantry Battalion, pleaded not guilty before a summary court marital to three charges arising from the alleged incident at the Irish Camp Clarke on February 6, 2010.

The court heard that the alleged assault by Cpl McQuillan of a sergeant occurred at around 2am after a number of soldiers returned to base from a recreational weekend.

Defence barrister Gerard Humphreys said an earlier "fracas", which did not involve his client, had taken place at the KFOR peacekeeping mission HQ which housed an American, German and Irish mess.

The Irish soldiers were then bussed back to Camp Clarke where they were met by military police, and this was when the alleged incident happened.

The court martial, at McKee Barracks in Dublin, was told it will be alleged that Cpl McQuillan was under the influence of alcohol at the time.

The corporal stood to attention as he was arraigned on three charges arising from the same incident.

These include that he assaulted a sergeant who was trying to restrain another soldier; that he committed an act to the prejudice of good order and discipline; and that he disobeyed a superior officer. Cpl McQuillan denies all the charges.

Mr Humphreys criticised the "inordinate" delay in bringing the case to trial, pointing out that it was now more than three years since the alleged incident.

Career

"He's a serving soldier. The effect of having a court martial hanging over him is prejudicial to him in his career," he said.

Mr Humphreys said the defence had only last week received a report from a commanding officer in relation to the alleged incident and they required more time to prepare.

He added that the third charge, of disobeying a superior officer, had been brought only in recent weeks and argued that, as it arose out of the same alleged offence, it should have been brought at the same time as the other two.

Military Judge Col Michael Campion adjourned the case to May 1.

Irish Independent