A soldier in the German military's IT division has been cleared in court, after he was demoted for refusing to develop software for possible use in the Iraq war.

The Federal Administrative Court in Leipzig ruled in the soldier’s favour, ranking his freedom of conscience higher than the command of a superior.

The unnamed soldier argued that his conscience would not allow him to develop software that could be used, directly or indirectly, in a war he viewed as a violation of international law.

He claimed his superior could not guarantee the software wouldn’t be used in Iraq by German forces stationed in Kuwait, German soldiers flying in Awacs (airborne warning and control system) surveillance airplanes, or coalition forces stationed in Germany.

The soldier, formerly a major in the German armed forces, was demoted to the rank of captain. The military disciplinary council had also sought his total removal from the armed forces.

The German government, under Chancellor Gerhard Schr"der, refused to commit armed forces to the US-led war in Iraq.