LONDON (AP) _ A Muslim air force reservist told a military tribunal Friday that he refused to serve in Iraq, fearing that he would be consigned to hell.

Leading Aircraftsman Mohisin Khan, 24, has appealed a Royal Air Force decision to fine him nine days' pay and seven days' privileges for going absent without leave in February and March to avoid being sent to the Persian Gulf.

He told the tribunal at Uxbridge Royal Air Force base in west London that his faith had led him to conclude that the war against the regime of President Saddam Hussein was unjustified.

``As a Muslim you are not allowed to fight against someone else unless it is for self-defense,'' he said. ``I didn't think it was a right war to fight because we were not defending ourselves.

``That is why, as a Muslim, if I was part of that conflict I didn't want to be judged on that by Allah, the creator.''

He added: ``It says in the Koran people go to hell. It had a big effect on me, because no one wants to go to hell.''

Khan joined the Royal Air Force as a medical assistant in December 1999 but left in April 2001 complaining he was mainly being asked to perform secretarial duties.

He was granted early retirement on condition that he remained a reservist for six years.

Between then and his call-up in January, he said, his Muslim faith became stronger and he started to pray five times a day.

He attended pre-deployment training at an RAF base in eastern England because he feared being jailed for desertion if he did not turn up, he said. ``I didn't want to, but I did my duty. But I was finding it hard to express my conscience that I did not want to be part of it.

``I thought I would be committing a crime, but it was too late to do anything about it.''

He was arrested on March 5. The case continues.