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10-month suspended sentence for officer who fled to England

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Emily Yeh (葉玫), a former military intelligence officer who ran away from her post to the United Kingdom for over 18 months, yesterday was handed a suspended 10-month prison sentence, suspended for four years, meaning that she would not need to serve her term unless she violates the Criminal Code within four years.

The Taichung District Court yesterday announced Yeh's sentence, demanded Yeh to serve 200 hours of community service, and released her on NT$50,000 bail.

The court said Yeh had difficulty in acclimating to the military environment and she could not successfully be discharged from her service early, noting that instead of adjusting her own mindset to the military life, she resorted to illegal means to discharge herself from the post.

Given that Yeh has confessed to violating the law, and because she did not have a criminal record, the court ruled that she receive a 10-month prison term, suspended for four years.

Officials from the Military Intelligence Bureau of the Ministry of National Defense (MND) commented on the verdict, saying that it respects the court's ruling. The officials noted, however, that once the verdict is finalized, it will ask Yeh to repay expenses for her training sessions.

Military spokesman Luo Shou-he (羅紹和) said Yeh is no longer a member of the armed forces as she was discharged from her post, noting that the MND respects the ruling.

Luo went on to say that as the judges gave Yeh an opportunity, the MND hopes Yeh will take this incident as an important lesson in life and correct her mistakes.

Yeh Thanks Judges

After hearing the sentence announcement, Yeh stepped out from the court and embraced her long-waiting mother in front of media reporters. Yeh said she appreciates everyone who cares about her, noting that her life was all about seeing her mother during her detention.

Yeh said she is thankful for the presiding judge's ruling, stressing that she will return to society with gratitude, work hard and be filial to her mother.

The 34-year-old was a Military Intelligence Bureau lieutenant. She was granted permission to vacation in Thailand in June 2012 but failed to return home and fled to the UK.

The same month the military issued a wanted bulletin and requested that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs revoke Yeh's passport.

Yeh was located by UK immigration officers, and was repatriated under guard by British officials this January.

According to Yeh, she could not get along with colleagues at work. She said she had reported the issue to her superior, but was unable to obtain a transfer.

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Emily Yeh (葉玫), a former military intelligence officer who went AWOL from her post and fled to the United Kingdom for over 18 months, embraces her mother in the Taichung District Court building, yesterday. The court sentenced Yeh to a suspended 10-month prison sentence. (CNA)

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