Army officer recommends no jail time for Bowe Bergdahl | News | DW | 11.10.2015
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Army officer recommends no jail time for Bowe Bergdahl

An army officer presiding over the case has said Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl should face a much lighter sentence. The former Taliban prisoner faced a possible life sentence in military prison for allegedly leaving his post.

An Army officer who headed the case against Sergeant Bergdahl, the 29-year-old former Taliban captive accused of desertion, recommended on Sunday the case be moved to the military equivalent of a misdemeanor court.

Bergdahl's defense attorney confirmed to the Associated Press news agency that Colonel Mark Visger was no longer seeking jail time for Bergdahl, who faced a maximum penalty of life behind bars. Instead, if found guilty, Bergdahl would face a reduction in rank and a bad conduct discharge.

The US Army has not yet confirmed Visger's decision, which was submitted in writing last Monday.

Caught in the crossfire

Bergdahl became the center of a political firestorm after a controversial prisoner swap last year. Bergdahl, who had left his post in Afghanistan on June 30, 2009, had been held captive by the Taliban. In May 2014, Bergdahl was released as part of the swap between the Obama Administration and Taliban leaders.

Fueled by allegations that Bergdahl had possibly cooperated with the enemy, many of Bergdahl's comrades came out publically to criticize the soldier, claiming the 45-day search to find him put their lives in danger. Many politicians have also lashed out at both the Administration and Bergdahl for the prisoner swap, with Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump calling him a "no-good traitor."

In March, the US military charged Bergdahl with desertion and misbehavior before the enemy.

blc/jlw (AP, Reuters)

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