A U.S. soldier who said he left his unit in Iraq to protest an "oil-driven" war was convicted of desertion Friday and sentenced to a year in jail and a bad conduct discharge.
A military jury met for about 20 minutes before giving the maximum sentence to Staff Sgt. Camilo Mejia, an infantry squad leader with the Florida National Guard.
"I have no regrets. Not one," Mejia said before his sentencing.
Military prosecutors argued that Mejia abandoned his troops and didn't fulfill his duty.
"He enjoyed all the benefits of the military, just not the duty," Capt. A.J. Balbo, the lead prosecutor, said in his closing argument. "The defense says he accomplished all his missions. Except the most important one — showing up."
Mejia's commander in Iraq, Capt. Tad Warfel, said the verdict would send a message that "deserters are punished, regardless of what their arguments are or their excuses."
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