FORT BRAGG, N.C. (AP) — For the first time in eight years, Bowe Bergdahl doesn’t face confinement, or the threat of it, after a judge spared the soldier from a prison sentence for endangering his comrades by walking off his post in Afghanistan.
The sentence, which also includes a dishonorable discharge, was quickly condemned by President Donald Trump as a “complete and total disgrace.” In the coming months, the final act of the legal drama will play out when Bergdahl’s lawyers take his case to a military appeals court to argue that Trump’s fiery views of the case merit further concessions — and possibly dismissal of the entire case.
The punitive discharge means the case will automatically be appealed to a higher military court. And a top commander will also review the case and consider arguments for leniency, as is standard in Army legal cases.
Bergdahl walked away from his post in Afghanistan, triggering a search that left some of his comrades severely wounded. He was also captured and held by Taliban allies for five years, and his legal case began when he returned to the U.S.
The judge gave no explanation of how he arrived at his decision, but he reviewed evidence that included Bergdahl’s captivity and the wounds suffered by troops who searched for him.
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