Anti-war Guardsman Sentenced

SSgt. Camilo Mejia before his conviction.
SSgt. Camilo Mejia before his conviction.

The verdict is in for a Florida National Guardsman accused of desertion. A military panel found SSgt. Camilo Mejia guilty after he left his unit during duty in Iraq last fall.

Mejia was tried at Fort Stewart because his unit mobilized for active duty there. The panel of soldiers who served in the same war as Mejia were the ones to decide his sentence.

Defense attorneys urged panel members that Camilo Mejia thought he had a legal right and his Costa Rican citizenship overruled extension of his military duty. Prosecutors argued he should have worked through the chain of command. The panel took less than two hours to find him guilty.

Mejia has been sentenced to a year in jail and a bad conduct discharge. He also has been stripped of his rank as staff sergeant.

Reported by: Dal Cannady,