Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is asking Congress for legislation that would remove the power of commanding generals under the UCMJ to overturn sexual assault convictions unilaterally. Under the new rules, the “convening authority” would lose the right to overturn court martial convictions for major offenses like sexual assault. This comes after the conviction of Lt. Col. James Wilkerson for sexual assault while at the Aviano Air Base in Italy was thrown out earlier this year by Lt. Gen. Craig A. Franklin, a move currently legal under the Uniform Code of Military Justice.
In a statement released today, Hagel wrote “These changes, if enacted by Congress, would help ensure that our military justice system works fairly, ensures due process, and is accountable. These changes would increase the confidence of service members and the public that the military justice system will do justice in every case.”
Related: Watch Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand dress down military officials at a recent hearing on military sexual assault with regards to the Aviano case.
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