U.S. soldier Bergdahl guilty of desertion
- Author: Rogelio Becker Oct 17, 2017,
Oct 17, 2017, 0:27
Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who is expected to plead guilty to charges of desertion and misbehavior on Monday, said he would not be able to get a fair trial now because President Trump once called him a "no good traitor" and said he should be executed. "The people who want to hang me, you're never going to convince those people".
The defense also was rebuffed in an effort to prove President Donald Trump had unfairly swayed the case with scathing criticism of Bergdahl, including suggestions of harsh punishment.
Bergdahl was immediately captured after leaving his post and held for five years by the Haqqani network. President Barack Obama, who approved the Taliban prisoner swap that brought Bergdahl home in 2014, said the USA does not leave its service members on the battlefield, but he was roundly criticized by Republicans.
He was charged with desertion, which carries a potential five-year sentence, and with misbehavior - essentially, endangering the troops who were sent to search for him - which carries a potential life sentence.
After departing the base, leaving behind his firearm, the young soldier was quickly captured by militants and held prisoner by the feared Haqqani faction, a Taliban-linked, Pakistan-based outfit blamed for many deadly attacks on U.S. soldiers.
An Army Sanity Board Evaluation determined in 2015 that Bergdahl suffers from schizotypal personality disorder.
United States officials have described Bergdahl's treatment in captivity as the worst case of prisoner abuse since the Vietnam War, with his captors beating him and locking him in a small cage for extended periods of time.
Nonetheless, he said he made "somewhere between a dozen and 15 escape attempts".
Legal scholars have said that several pretrial rulings against the defense have given prosecutors leverage to pursue stiff punishment against Bergdahl.
"I didn't think there'd be any reason to pull off a crucial mission to look for one guy", he said, adding his actions were "very inexcusable".