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US army deserters flee Iraq

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    US army deserters flee Iraq http://www.russiatoday.com/news/news/36819 Last week s successful election in Iraq was a major step towards the withdrawal of US
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 4, 2009
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      US army deserters flee Iraq
      http://www.russiatoday.com/news/news/36819


      Last week's successful election in Iraq was a major step towards the
      withdrawal of US troops from the country. But some soldiers are
      jumping the gun. They're deserting the US army, insisting the
      occupation is unjust.

      At present, more than 5,000 troops are missing from duty, the
      Pentagon says.

      One of them is Andre Shepherd, who found a new home in Germany. In
      2007, before his second deployment in Iraq, Andre fled the army,
      calling the war illegal.

      "When the CIA report came and they said that there were no weapons of
      mass destruction found in Iraq, that really made me angry," Andre
      said. "I wondered if there are no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq
      and the CIA and obviously the Bush administration knew about this,
      then why did we just destroy Fallujah, completely wiped out the
      entire city?" he asked.

      When Andre's unit first returned to its military base in Germany, the
      apache helicopter mechanic said he knew he could no longer be a part
      of America's war efforts.

      "I am sitting here and thinking: what am I doing? I'm putting
      together a lethal machine that is just killing innocent people."

      Andre told the army he was going on holiday to the US, but instead
      went on the run in Germany. But after 19 months in hiding, he decided
      on another course of action. In his case, asylum was the only option.

      Andre's lawyer Dr Reinhard Marx says German and international law is
      on Andre's side but there will be challenges ahead.

      "Speaking in legal terms, he has good reason; but speaking in
      political terms - if you consider the particular relationship between
      Germany and the US, it will be a very difficult question and it will
      raise a lot of problems," Marx said.

      Andre Shepherd may become the first US soldier to get asylum status
      in Europe and many here also believe that this case will be a key
      indicator of Germany's stance on the war in Iraq.

      Even though Germany has declared the war illegal, the country is the
      main staging post for the US military with around 60,000 US troops
      stationed there.

      Criss Capps is an Iraq war veteran. Like many of his colleagues, he
      also questions the war's legitimacy.

      "So if I'm doing work for the Iraqis by watching them with an M16,
      while they are working their ass off filling sand bags, this is not
      the kind of help we need to bring to Iraq," he said.

      "What I did see in Iraq is basically Iraqis being exploited; a lot of
      Americans made a lot of money."

      Tim Hubert from the Military Counseling network says around 80
      soldiers contact his organization each year looking for ways to get
      out of the army, and he thinks Andre's case may open the flood gates
      for many other US soldiers.

      "I think giving Andre asylum would give hope to a lot of soldiers
      struggling with guilt right now - fighting a war they feel is unjust,
      and not having a way out of a contract they entered under extremely
      different circumstances," Huber said.

      Hubert says that if Andre loses then he will be turned over to the US
      authorities. And if they decide to prosecute him with desertion he
      could even face the death sentence.

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