Court-martial proceedings for a Schweinfurt, Germany-based Army medic charged with desertion and missing movement are to begin Tuesday morning at the Leighton Barracks courtroom in Würzburg.

Spc. Agustín Aguayo, 35, of 1st Battalion, 18th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, went absent without leave in September to avoid deploying to Iraq with his unit. The deployment would have been Aguayo’s second to Iraq.

Aguayo applied for conscientious objector status during the first deployment in 2004. He has been waging a legal battle with U.S. federal authorities since returning from Iraq, in February 2005.

Maintaining that since joining the Army in 2002 his views have changed and he now finds war morally wrong, Aguayo surrendered to military authorities at Fort Irwin, Calif. — about three hours away from his hometown of Los Angeles — in September. He has since been held in the military correctional facility in Mannheim, Germany, awaiting legal proceedings.

“It is the right thing to do,” the Associated Press quoted Aguayo as saying at a news conference before his September surrender. “I’m not a deserter or a coward.”

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