Miami Soldier Headed to Jail for Ali Stance

Victor Agosto decided staying home was a better idea than going to war torn Afghanistan

By Todd Wright
|  Thursday, Aug 6, 2009  |  Updated 7:14 AM EDT
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Miami Soldier Headed to Jail for Ali Stance

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The Greatest might be proud of a Miami soldier's stance on war.

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Spc. Victor Agosto might not be the greatest but he appears to have the same views as Muhammad Ali when it comes to war. And now he will serve jail time just like the former heavyweight champ.

Agosto, who is from Miami, was sentenced to 30 days in jail for refusing to go to Afghanistan with the rest of his Fort Hood Army regiment. The 24-year-old was sentenced Wednesday at an hour-long military proceeding after he pleaded guilty to disobeying a
lawful order to report to a site that performs medical, legal and other services for troops before they deploy.

He was also dropped to the lowly Army rank of private. Before leaving the court marshall hearing, Agosto ripped the rank badge off his uniform. A discharge was not mentioned in the hearing, but Agosto is expected to be released from the Army after completing his jail term.

Before he was sentenced Wednesday, Agosto told the judge he believes the war violates international law. He said, however, that courts haven't recognized soldiers' rights to refuse an order they deem illegal.

The stance was similar to Ali’s legacy defining defiance when he refused to go to the Vietnam War after being drafted by the U.S. Army in 1967. Ali never served significant time for his anti-war stance, but appealed his arrest all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Agosto refused deployment to Afghanistan a few months ago after learning that the Army was keeping him beyond his enlistment date. Agosto said that when he enlisted in 2005, he felt invading Iraq was wrong but that troops had a mission to complete. He said he began to oppose the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan after he served a 13-month tour in Iraq, which ended in late 2007.

"I really had no Army way of being consistent with my conscience," Agosto said. "The courts haven't recognized soldiers' rights to refuse an order they believe to be illegal... I believe future courts will find that the Afghanistan war is illegal because it violates international law."

At least now he won't have to go to the Middle East.

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