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Female Soldier Sentenced To 10 Months Over Desertion

The first female to desert during the Iraq war was sentenced to 10 months in prison after she pleaded guilty late Monday during a court-martial.

The AP reports that Pfc. Kimberly Rivera, 30, deserted during a two-week leave in 2007. Rivera headed to Canada when she was ordered back to Iraq for a second tour.

The AP reports:

"After fleeing to Canada, Rivera applied for refugee status but was denied.

"Rivera then applied for permanent residency, but Canadian immigration officials rejected that application, too. Authorities also rejected her requests to stay on humanitarian and compassionate grounds.

"Rivera was first ordered to leave Canada or face deportation in 2009, but she appealed that decision. The mother of four faced another deportation order issued in 2012."

The Colorado Springs Gazette reports that Rivera's defense attorneys argued she was a "conscientious objector," but she didn't file for that status because she was never told that was an option.

The government argued that Rivera refused to return to duty because "her husband threatened to leave her and take their children."

The Gazette reports:

"Fourteen anti-war activists attended the court-martial Monday to support Rivera.

"One, who befriended Rivera after she was brought back to Fort Carson last year, testified on her behalf during the sentencing hearing.

"'Her heart is like a Mennonite or Quaker,' said Nadine Jackson, a member of the Pikes Peak Justice & Peace Commission."

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Eyder Peralta is NPR's East Africa correspondent based in Nairobi, Kenya.
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