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Bergdahl gets no prison time, sentenced to dishonorable discharge

By in Press Enterprise on November 3, 2017

By The Associated Press

By JONATHAN DREW

FORT BRAGG, N.C. — A military judge ruled Friday that Bowe Bergdahl should serve no prison time for endangering his comrades by walking off his Afghanistan post.

The sentence caps a politically divisive episode that centered on one soldier’s decision that affected many other lives. President Barack Obama was criticized for trading Taliban prisoners to bring him back. As a presidential candidate, Donald Trump had called for Bergdahl to face stiff punishment.

The judge also gave Bergdahl a dishonorable discharge, reduced his rank to private and said he must forfeit pay equal to $1,000 per month for 10 months. The judge made no other comments.

Bergdahl appeared tense, grimaced and clenched his jaw. His attorneys put their arms around him and one patted him on the back.

Bergdahl pleaded guilty to desertion and misbehavior before the enemy and had faced up to life in prison. The judge had wide leeway because Bergdahl made no deal with prosecutors to limit his sentence.

Prosecutors had sought stiff punishment because of wounds to service members who searched for Bergdahl after he disappeared in 2009. He was held captive by Taliban allies for five years.

The defense sought to counter that evidence with testimony about Bergdahl’s suffering during five years as a captive of Taliban allies, his contributions to military intelligence and survival instruction and his mental health problems.

A punitive discharge deprives Bergdahl of most or all his veterans’ benefits.

Bergdahl had faced up to life in prison after pleading guilty to desertion and misbehavior before the enemy.

In closing arguments, defense attorneys argued Bergdahl already suffered enough confinement during five years of brutal captivity by Taliban allies. They asked the judge to give their client a dishonorable discharge and no prison time. Their argument for leniency also cited harsh campaign-trail criticism by Donald Trump and Bergdahl’s mental disorders.

Capt. Nina […]    

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