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The Army said Friday it has denied conscientious objector status for a soldier who refused to go to Iraq for a second tour, saying he became morally opposed to war during the 2003 U.S.-led invasion.

Sgt. Kevin Benderman, 40, filed his objector application Dec. 28, just 10 days before he skipped his unit's deployment flight. The Army mechanic faces a court-martial May 12 on charges of desertion and missing movement.

Benderman, who has served 10 years in the Army, has said his eight months in Iraq in 2003 included scenes of misery such as a badly burned young girl and mass graves filled with men, women and children.

The military defines a conscientious objector as someone who opposes war in all forms for deeply held moral or religious reasons.

If convicted at his court-martial, Benderman faces up to seven years in prison, reduction in rank to private and a dishonorable discharge.

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