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Soldier convicted of desertion, sentenced to 8 months in prison

March 07, 2007|From the Associated Press

WUERZBURG, GERMANY — A U.S. Army medic who jumped out a window of his base housing and fled to California to avoid a redeployment to Iraq was convicted of desertion Tuesday at a court-martial. He was sentenced to eight months in prison -- far short of the maximum seven-year sentence.

Spc. Agustin Aguayo, 35, of Los Angeles, who refused to return to Iraq because he believes war is immoral, admitted the less serious charge of being absent without leave but was unsuccessful in contesting the more serious desertion charge.

In a shaky voice, Aguayo told the court that his convictions led him to flee. "I tried my best, but I couldn't bear weapons, and I could never point weapons at someone."

Because Aguayo has been jailed for 161 days awaiting trial, he could be free within a few weeks. Aguayo will also have his rank reduced to private, forfeit his pay, and receive a bad-conduct discharge.

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