Donald Trump calls judge's decision not to jail Bowe Bergdahl a 'disgrace'
06 November, 2017, 02:36 | Author: Kim Reid
Bergdahl, a U.S. Army soldier, left his post while on duty in Afghanistan's Paktika province on the night of June 30, 2009.
Bergdahl will not be jailed after endangering fellow troops when he deserted his post in Afghanistan in 2009.
He was only freed in 2014 after former President Barack Obama reached a controversial deal with the Taliban in which he released five Taliban prisoners from Guantanamo Bay in exchange.
They asked the judge to give their client a dishonorable discharge and no prison time.
Bergdahl appeared visibly shaken in court as the military judge decided against any prison time for the soldier.
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At the sentencing hearing, Nance reduced Bergdahl's rank to private and required him to forfeit $1,000 a month of his pay for 10 months.
The former Taliban hostage faced up to life in prison after pleading guilty to desertion and misbehavior in front of the enemy.
"Sgt. Bergdahl has looked forward to today for a long time", Eugene Fidell, Bergdahl's civilian attorney, said at a news conference.
During his successful campaign for the presidency previous year, Republican Donald Trump called Bergdahl "a no-good traitor who should have been executed".
Military judge Jeffery Nance rejected the request, maintaining he had not been influenced by the comments of the man who became commander in chief but that he would consider Trump's statements "as mitigation evidence" (paywall) in sentencing. He spent five years as a captive of the Taliban and also suffered from mental illnesses. They cited soldiers who were injured when they searched for Bergdahl.
According to Mr Fidell, that forms "an extremely strong basis for dismissal of the case".
Nance's Friday sentence will be reviewed by Gen. Robert B. Abrams, who convened the court-martial, with the possibility of lessening the punishment but not increasing it.
For work, Bergdahl already has a job offer from an animal sanctuary, and a military official who helps design survival training says he would like to use Bergdahl as a part of lectures to service members on how to survive captivity.
Earlier this year, the defence argued Mr Trump's public criticism of Bergdahl meant it wouldn't be possible for him to have a fair trial.
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Army Deserter Bowe Bergdahl Will Not Serve Prison Time
Bergdahl, now 31, was captured by the Taliban and spent almost five years under brutal captivity by the insurgent group. At the time of Bergdahl's release, Obama said the US does not leave its service members on the battlefield.