Taipei, Feb. 25 (CNA) A former military intelligence officer charged with desertion shed tears in court Tuesday and said she is willing to donate NT$500,000 (US$16,480) and do community service in exchange for a possible probation. Emily Yeh was indicted by the Taichung District Prosecutors Office after she was repatriated from the United Kingdom in January, where she had been hiding. Yeh faces trial for desertion, an offense that carries a maximum sentence of five years under Taiwan's Criminal Code of the Armed Forces. During the court hearing, Yeh said she had difficulty adjusting to military life, was unfairly treated, sexually harassed and pressured by her peers so that she could not live up to the requirements of the job. She added that she had heard stories of how some military personnel use the pretext of physical or mental illness to leave the military. When asked by presiding judge Chen Chun-chang why she did not choose one of those options but instead ran off to the United Kingdom, Yeh said that she "acted on the spur of the moment and committed a silly mistake." She added that during her stay in the U.K., she had relied on her church and also served as a volunteer. "I'm a really unfilial daughter," Yeh said, adding that she missed her mother a great deal during her time in Britain. "I should have faced the problem, but I'm not brave enough," she said. Her mother now travels every day from Hsinchu to visit her in a detention center in Taichung, Yeh said. Presiding judge Chen Chun-chang pointed out that "your mother wouldn't have to be so worried about you if you had thought things through earlier." Yeh's appeal for paying a donation and doing community service was rejected by the prosecutor, who said that "Emily Yeh was out of job for a long time, without income. A hefty fine will be tantamount to punishing her parent." The prosecutor also said that Yeh's desertion has infringed upon the interests of the nation and involves the nation's military service system. As for Yeh's allegations of sexual harassment, the prosecutor said she would need to provide substantive evidence. Yeh was returned to the detention center after the court hearing to await sentencing, which Chen said will be handed down March 11.
Yeh, who served with the Military Intelligence Bureau in Taichung, flew to the U.K. in June 2012 without permission from her superiors. She had been granted leave from June 17-24, 2012 to visit Thailand but failed to return to her post, according to the Military Intelligence Bureau. She is believed to have entered the U.K. under that country's visa-exempt privileges extended to Taiwanese nationals, but continued to stay illegally after her six-month visa-free period expired. She took up residency in Newport, Wales until her Dec. 10 arrest for overstaying. Her passport had already been invalidated by the Taiwanese authorities once it was discovered that she had gone AWOL. She was put into a detention facility in England pending deportation following a failed bid to obtain political asylum. (By Chen Shu-fen, Lilian Wu and Lee Hsin-Yin)