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Deserting female military officer brought back to Taiwan

ROC Central News Agency

2014/01/19 16:40:16

Taipei, Jan. 19 (CNA) A Taiwanese military intelligence officer who deserted her post in Taiwan more than 18 months ago and went into hiding in the United Kingdom, returned to Taiwan Sunday afternoon after being repatriated by British authorities.

Lt. Emily Yeh, an officer with Taiwan's Military Intelligence Bureau, was put on a plane in London by British authorities Saturday and was guarded by British and Taiwanese officials throughout the flight to Taiwan.

She was put on a connecting flight from Kuala Lumpur to Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport on Sunday morning, bringing to an end her stay of over 18 months in hiding in the U.K.

Yeh, 33, was handcuffed and taken to the Taichung District Prosecutors Office for interrogation and she could be tried later for desertion, an offense that carries a maximum sentence of five years under Taiwan's Criminal Code of the Armed Forces.

According to article 39 of the code, 'a person who tries to abscond from military service for long period ' is liable to 'imprisonment of no more than five years.'

Yeh's case was among those transferred to civilian judicial authorities on Jan. 13, as part of Taiwan's reform of its military justice system following the death of an Army corporal in military detention last year.

Yeh, who was in military service in Taichung, flew to the U.K. in June 2012 without permission from her superiors.

She had been granted vacation time from June 17-24, 2012 to visit Thailand, but she failed to return, according to the Military Intelligence Bureau.

Yeh said she traveled to the U.K. via Thailand. She is believed to have entered the U.K. under the visa-exempt privileges extended to Taiwanese nationals, but stayed illegally after the six-month visa-free period expired.

She took up residency in Newport, Wales until her Dec. 10 arrest for overstaying and her passport was invalidated by Taiwan once it was discovered that she had gone AWOL.

She was later put into a detention facility in Bedford, east England, pending deportation.

The bureau believes she deserted because, in her own words, she was 'not suited' to military life.

(By Bien Chin-feng, Sophia Chen and Elaine Hou)

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