German court rejects US Army deserter's request for asylum
BERLIN — A Munich court on Thursday rejected a U.S. soldier's asylum application in Germany, arguing that he hasn't exhausted all avenues to leave the military.
Army Spc. Andre Shepherd deserted from his military base in southern Germany in 2007, claiming he wanted to avoid returning to Iraq where he feared being involved in war crimes.
The 39-year-old, who has permanent residency in Germany because he is married to a German woman, took his case to court after German authorities rejected the asylum bid.
The Munich administrative court noted in its ruling that the Apache helicopter mechanic had repeatedly re-enlisted with the U.S. military.
Shepherd's lawyer plans to appeal the verdict, Germany's dpa news agency reported.
In a statement sent to The Associated Press, the U.S. Army in Europe said it was aware of the case but wasn't seeking to participate in the legal proceedings.
"We do not, as a general policy, proactively pursue deserters," the statement said. "However, should Shepherd be returned to U.S. Army custody, his case would be handled as would every other deserter returned to U.S. custody, in accordance with applicable laws and regulations and on its own merit."