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Deserter Gets Prize From Anti-War Group
Stars and Stripes  |  By Geoff Ziezulewicz  |  June 07, 2007
A former soldier who refused to deploy to Iraq and was convicted of desertion is slated to receive a peace prize and 5,000 euros later this year from a German anti-war group.

The award will be presented in December to Agustín Aguayo, a combat medic who was found guilty in March of deserting the Schweinfurt, Germany-based 2nd Brigade, 1st Infantry Division as it prepared to deploy to Iraq.

AnStifter, a peace advocacy group, will award the prize to the former soldier. Aguayo was chosen among a group of candidates, the AnStifter’s Web site states.

According to an interpreted release put out last week by Connection e.V., another German anti-war group, the prize will be awarded to Aguayo on Dec. 1 during a ceremony in Stuttgart.

Aguayo’s decision to publicize his opposition to a second deployment to Iraq contributed to the arguments against the war policy of the U.S. government and its allies, the Connection e.V. release states.

Aguayo was convicted in March in connection with the desertion, which happened in September in Schweinfurt. He was to have deployed as a medic with the brigade’s 1st Battalion, 18th Infantry Regiment.

In early September, Aguayo disobeyed an order to join up with fellow soldiers to start heading to Iraq. At one point, he was escorted by military police to his housing unit in Schweinfurt but jumped out of the window as his escort waited outside. He eventually made his way to California.

He returned to Germany and in March was tried and sentenced to eight months confinement, forfeiture of pay, reduction in rank to private and a bad-conduct discharge.

He had applied for conscientious objector status before his first deployment with the brigade in 2004. He told the court-martial judge in March that he had received disciplinary actions for refusing to load or carry a weapon during that first deployment.

Credited with serving pre-trial time, Aguayo was released on April 18 and headed back to the States shortly thereafter.

Stars and Stripes staff member Mechtild Snippen contributed to this report.

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