Army deserter gets 8 months in military prison
By Ashraf Khalil, Times Staff Writer
2:20 PM PST, March 6, 2007
A Los Angeles man was sentenced to eight months in a military prison after he was convicted today of desertion for refusing to deploy to Iraq.
Army Spc. Agustin Aguayo, 35, whose court-martial was held in Wurtzburg, Germany, fled his Army base in Germany last summer for California. He had faced a maximum of seven years in prison.
Aguayo had been jailed for 161 days awaiting trial and his attorney, David Court, said he did not expect him to serve more than about six more weeks.
After fleeing Germany, Aguayon surfaced in California, then turned himself in Sept. 26 at Fort Irwin.
“It’s the right thing to do,” Aguayo told reporters before his surrender. “I’m not a deserter or a coward. I just felt that I needed to be unavailable for this [deployment] because I have come to believe that it is so wrong.”
“In the global war on terrorism, we need everybody rowing the boat,” Maj. Robert Whittle, one of Aguayo’s commanding officers, told the Stars and Stripes newspaper last fall while the soldier was still missing.
Aguayo, he said, “volunteered to serve in the military. We would like him to fulfill the commitment he made and rejoin the team.”
The case is being closely watched by American antiwar groups that have taken up Aguayo’s cause and raised money for his defense.
He is part of a steady trickle of soldiers resisting Iraq duty, either as conscientious objectors to all forms of violence or as political dissenters who would serve in Afghanistan or other places, but not Iraq.
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