Defense to push for leniency for U.S. Army deserter Bergdahl

FORT BRAGG, N.C. (Reuters) – Legal professionals for U.S. Military Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl will construct their case on Tuesday for why he ought to be spared jail time for strolling off his Afghanistan submit in June 2009 and endangering the troops who looked for him.

U.S. Military Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl leaves the courthouse after the fourth day of sentencing proceedings in his courtroom martial at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, U.S., October 30, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Drake

The 31-yr-previous soldier, a polarizing determine who spent years in captivity and was launched in a 2014 Taliban prisoner swap brokered by Democratic President Barack Obama’s administration, took the stand at his sentencing listening to on Monday.

The Idaho native faces as much as life in jail after he pleaded responsible on Oct. sixteen to desertion and misbehavior earlier than the enemy. He has no plea settlement with prosecutors, leaving his sentence as much as Military Colonel Jeffery Nance.

Bergdahl gave almost two hours of unsworn statements, which means prosecutors didn’t get to query him. He mentioned his psychological well being and the torture and neglect he endured after being captured by the Taliban, elements the protection hope will earn him leniency.

“The worst was the fixed deterioration of all the things — the ache from my physique falling aside, the fixed inner screams from all of the darkness and lightweight and the whole lot I needed to cope with,” Bergdahl stated at North Carolina’s Fort Bragg.

The army decide dominated on Monday that disparaging feedback made by Republican President Donald Trump about Bergdahl had not affected the equity of the courtroom proceedings.

Throughout final yr’s presidential marketing campaign, Trump referred to as Bergdahl “a no-good traitor who ought to have been executed,” and the protection stated the president endorsed such feedback in newer remarks.

Nance stated he was not influenced by the statements and would render a simply sentence. The decide stated, nevertheless, he would think about the president’s remarks as a mitigating issue.

The decide additionally will weigh aggravating proof introduced through the previous week by prosecutors.

A number of service members spoke of the hazardous circumstances they confronted within the futile seek for Bergdahl, who says he abandoned his duties to report “important issues” in his chain of command.

A number of troopers fell sick or have been badly injured throughout swiftly organized missions to seek out him. Grasp Sergeant Mark Allen, probably the most critically harm, suffered a debilitating mind damage that left him unable to talk or stroll after…

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