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Last Updated: Thursday, 18 March, 2004, 03:16 GMT
US 'anti-war' soldier awaits fate
Staff Sergeant Camilo Mejia
Camilo Mejia wants to be seen as a conscientious objector
US military officials in Florida are considering whether to prosecute a soldier who refuses to serve in Iraq.

Staff Sergeant Camilo Mejia, of the Florida National Guard, has asked to be considered a conscientious objector.

He says he opposes an "oil-driven war" and is prepared to go to jail rather than return to Iraq.

Mr Mejia served there for five months until last October when he went on leave - but then failed to report to his unit in Fort Stewart.

He surrendered to the US military earlier this week and on Tuesday met officials of the Florida National Guard.

Ordinary duties

There are conflicting accounts of the sergeant's status.

Florida National Guard spokesman Jon Myatt said Mr Mejia had been classified as a deserter because he had been missing from his unit for more than 30 days.

However the chief of military justice at Fort Stewart said the Army had no immediate plans to charge or arrest him.

He said Mr Mejia would perform ordinary duties at the base while his case was being reviewed.

Deserters can be sentenced to death during wartime.

The Florida National Guard is one of the units of part-time soldiers that has been sent to the Gulf.

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