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WüRZBURG, Germany — After 17 months in legal limbo, Sgt. Keith Brevard faced a jury on Monday.

The soldier, accused of illegally separating from the Army by forging signatures on his clearing papers, has waited for a trial to begin since he was arrested Nov. 8, 2001.

“This is not a difficult case,” Capt. Kyle Reardon, a 1st Infantry Division prosecutor, told the eight-member panel of officers and senior enlisted soldiers during opening statements of the trial at division headquarters in Würzburg.

Reardon said Brevard forged signatures on his clearing papers so he could sneak out of the military while being investigated for the disappearance of computer equipment in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, where he was deployed earlier that year.

“You will see an accused that separated fraudulently,” Reardon said, “because he wanted to escape the court-martial that was being prepared against him.”

David Court, Brevard’s attorney, said in his opening statement that Brevard was given the orders to separate, followed those orders and left the Army with an honorable discharge.

Brevard’s company commander signed the separation papers and now he’s embarrassed because he approved the separation, Court said.

“Someone made a mistake that they are now trying to make Brevard pay for,” he said in his opening statements.

The trial is scheduled to conclude by Wednesday.

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