Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl faced an official pretrial arraignment December 22, which took fewer than 15 minutes. He returned to the military courtroom at Fort Bragg, North Carolina January 12, and while officials haven’t set a date for his court-martial, experts believe it will take place this summer.
The 29-year-old soldier faces charges of desertion and misbehavior before the enemy, and he could spend the rest of his life in a military prison if convicted of the latter charge. Desertion carries a 5-year confinement sentence under the Uniform Code of Military Justice.
Bergdahl was held captive by the Taliban in Afghanistan for 5 years, and during that time, he was tortured and kept in isolation for long stretches of time. Many military experts have suggested that even if convicted, Bergdahl should be able to avoid a prison sentence – but the military may disagree.
During his arraignment, Bergdahl deferred entering a plea, and there’s no word yet on whether he’ll be tried by a jury or a judge alone, which is his right as the accused under military law.
Bergdahl walked off his post in eastern Afghanistan, in the Paktika Province, on June 30, 2009. He claims that he left his base, unarmed, in the middle of the night to draw attention to “leadership failures” within his unit.
In late May of 2014, he was traded in a “prisoner swap” in exchange for five Guantanamo Bay detainees.
Many service members are conflicted about Bergdahl’s disappearance, partly due to the fact that six other soldiers were killed looking for him.
What Do You Think?
How do you feel about the Bergdahl case, and do you think that being held captive by the Taliban for 5 years should wipe out the possibility of him serving time in a military prison?