In 1984 Hemler walked off a US air base in Germany and hitchhiked to Sweden, The New York Times reported this week. Since then the US armed forces considered him missing and until a month ago his family had presumed he was dead. But not so long ago, Hemler found courage to finally call his relatives and now the entire world knows of his desertion.
On February 10, 1984 David A. Hemler left a US air base in Augsburg, Germany and hitchhiked to Sweden. Upon arrival Hemler changed his name, saying that his parents were drifters and started working at a hamburger restaurant. After about 18 months Hemler was granted a residency permit. According to him he never planned on staying away from home for so long, but as time passed his fear of military police made him stay.
Today 49 year old David Hemler works for the Swedish government; he is married and has two children in Uppsala, Sweden. Back at his home-state Pennsylvania he left behind his brother and 70 year old parents. According to The New York Times, Hemler sent an e-mail to the Air Force Office of Special Investigations to find out what kind of legal consequences he might face id he chooses to return to US. In response US Air Force official replied that even after 28 years he is still a fugitive and is responsible for deserting.
Fortunately Hemler has nothing to be worried about. Ulf Wallentheim, The senior Legal Adviser for the Ministry of Justice in Sweden said that in order to extradite Hemler US must follow a certain protocol.
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“The US and Sweden has an extradition treaty, but one important condition for extradition is that the case should be a double criminality, which meant that it should be considered a crime in both requesting and requested countries. If they ask for extradition we have to see what kind of crime he is suspected of and if it is considered a crime in Sweden. And since it happened 28 years ago we need to determine of that crime could pass its statute of limitations.” – said Wallentheim to The Voice of Russia.
Therefore Hemler will face jail time only if he decides to return to US. And he is not planning on doing that.