Case of deserted U.S. soldier to be heard by EU court

Sept. 11, 2013 at 9:00 AM
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MUNICH, Germany, Sept. 11 (UPI) -- The European Union court will consider the appeal of a U.S. soldier seeking asylum in Germany after deserting the U.S. Army to avoid redeployment to Iraq.

Andre Shepherd, an Apache helicopter mechanic based in Germany, went into hiding in 2007 when he learned that his unit, the 412th Aviation Support Battalion, was being sent back to Iraq.

A native of Cleveland, Shepherd stayed underground for 18 months with the aid of peace groups in Germany.

He surfaced in late 2008 and petitioned for asylum in Germany on grounds he would have been forced to participate in war crimes if he returned to Iraq.

Germany rejected Shepherd's request in 2011, saying he failed to cite concrete examples of war crimes committed during his first deployment in 2004-05.

Shepherd's lawyer, Reinhard Marx, said the court's standard of proof was too strict and it should be considered the former soldier displayed a "well-founded fear," a phrase used in the 1951 Geneva Convention text on refugees.

The Munich court granted Marx's request in January to file an appeal to the EU court. The Munich court formally suspended Shepherd's case and sent his files to Luxembourg, where they will be examined by the 28 member states, Stars and Stripes reported Tuesday.

Marx said he expects a decision in about two years.

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