Canada

U.S. deserter back at home in B.C.

A British Columbia man arrested last week for deserting the U.S. Marine Corps nearly 40 years ago at the height of the Vietnam War is back home.

A British Columbia man arrested last week for deserting the U.S. Marine Corps nearly 40 years ago returned home Friday after being released from a U.S. military jail.

Marines took Allen Abney, 56, to the airport on Thursday night and paid for a flight to Spokane, Wash., where he was picked up by his family and driven home.

He was arrested a week ago as he tried to cross the border in Idaho. He and his wife were on their way to a holiday in Reno, Nev..

Abney was taken to Camp Pendleton near San Diego, Calif., where he was held in the brig.

Abney, who has been a Canadian citizen since 1977, could have faced a jail sentence, but the Marine Corps has been giving Vietnam-era deserters general discharges.

Abney was freed late Thursday night, partly for humanitarian reasons.

His brother Gerry died in hospital while he was in custody, and the U.S. military rushed the release through so that Abney could attend the funeral on Saturday.

Abney and his family live in Kingsgate in the East Kootenays, in a house about 100 metres from the Canada-U.S. border.

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