Bergdahl Heads for General Court-Martial, Could Get Life

Ruling general ignored recommendation Bergdahl go before 'special' military court
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 14, 2015 1:54 PM CST
Bergdahl Heads for General Court-Martial, Could Get Life
Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, sits in a vehicle guarded by the Taliban in eastern Afghanistan.   (Voice Of Jihad Website via AP video, File)

A lawyer for Bowe Bergdahl, the US soldier accused of deserting his Army post in Afghanistan in 2009 before being captured and held by the Taliban for almost five years, says his client will stand trial before a general court-martial, Reuters reports. Despite the advice of a preliminary-hearing officer that Bergdahl's case be moved to a special misdemeanor-level military court, the ruling authority went against what Bergdahl attorney Eugene Fidell had hoped for, he said in a statement, per the AP.

The decision by Gen. Robert B. Abrams means that Bergdahl, 29, faces a possible life sentence on charges of desertion and endangering troops, even though Lt. Col. Mark Visger, the Army lawyer who presided over the preliminary hearing, agreed with an investigating officer's recommendation that jail time for Bergdahl would be "inappropriate," the New York Times reports. Visger had instead suggested an intermediate-level court-martial, in which the harshest punishment facing Bergdahl would have been a year behind bars, the paper notes. (Bergdahl is the star of the new season of the Serial podcast.)

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