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Conscript returns to base after going AWOL for three days: Taiwan Army

04/14/2024 12:39 PM
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CNA file photo for illustrative purpose only
CNA file photo for illustrative purpose only

Taipei, April 14 (CNA) A conscript returned to a Tainan military base Sunday morning, three days after he went absent without leave (AWOL), according to the Army.

The incident was reportedly the first in which a conscript has been AWOL since Taiwan's military reintroduced one-year compulsory military service starting in 2024, up from only four months previously, in a move to boost its defense capabilities.

The conscript surnamed Liu (劉) began his eight-week boot camp training in the Tainan-based 203rd brigade on April 9, but was reported AWOL on late April 11, the 8th Army Corps said in a press statement.

Now that Liu has returned to the base, the brigade will begin an official probe of the incident before sending the case to military police for follow-up legal proceedings, it added.

According to Article 40 of the Criminal Code of the Armed Forces, a person who leaves his position without reasons or does not assume his/her service over six days shall be punished with a maximum three-year imprisonment or a fine of up to NT$300,000 (US$9,287).

No official punishment is listed in the Criminal Code of the Armed Forces for those who return to their base within six days.

According to a Chinese-language China Times report, Liu had been listed as a potential high risk personnel after completing the required psychological check every conscript must go through before starting compulsory service.

Liu reportedly climbed out of the iron fence surrounding his Tainan base on the night of April 11, and CCTV footage showed a car picking him up after he left the base, the China Times said.

There have been concerns that the number of conscripts going AWOL could rise after the government extended the military service to one year starting this year.

Only 43 AWOL cases were reported between 2019 and 2023, when conscripts were required to do four months of military service.

However, 338 AWOL cases were reported between 2009 and 2013, when conscripts served for one year, Taiwan's military data shows.

(By Joseph Yeh)

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