Bergdahl may face life sentence for 'endangering US troops'

US Army officials say Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl who abandoned his post in Afghanistan in 2009 and held captive for 5 years by Taliban, may face life sentence for 'endangering US troops'

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

US Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl is pictured in this undated handout photo provided by the US Army

US Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl, who abandoned his post in Afghanistan in 2009 and captured by Taliban, will face court-martial trial in which he can face life-sentence if convicted of “endangering US troops”, army officials said on Monday.

Bergdahl who was held by Taliban for five years and subjected to abuse and torture was charged with desertion and endangering US troops earlier this year.

He was handed back to US forces at a prearranged remote location in Afghanistan on May 31, 2014 in exchange for five Guantanamo detainees referred as “Taliban 5” in 2014 after an offer from Taliban spokesman in Qatar.

According to Bergdahl’s lawyer, a preliminary hearing recommended Bergdahl to face  potential maximum penalty of a year in confinement, however, Army General Robert Abrams who ordered the court martial did not follow.

Bergdahl's lawyer, Eugene Fidell, said the defense team "had hoped the case would not go in this direction."

In a Monday interview, Fidell criticised members of Congress for “politicization” of the Bergdahl case.

"The willingness of members of the... Senate to interfere with the adjudication of a pending criminal case is appalling," he said.

Republican Senator John McCain, who chairs Armed Services Committee said last month that he would call a Senate hearing if Bergdahl was not punished.

General Abrams who is presiding over the case is set to appear before the Armed Services Committee which will decide his next possible promotion.

Bergdahl said he left his post in Afghanistan in June 2009 to draw attention to "leadership failure" in his unit.

The head of the Army team that investigated Bergdahl has said that he does not believe the army deserter should be imprisoned.

Major General Kenneth Dahl said Bergdahl is not a Taliban sympathizer and the military operation to find him did not result in any soldier's death.

TRTWorld and agencies