HOUSTON (AP) — A former member of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl’s platoon said Sunday he’s angered by an Army officer’s recommendation that Bergdahl face a lower-level court martial and be spared the possibility of jail time for leaving his post in Afghanistan.
Josh Korder, an ex-U.S. Army sergeant, said Bergdahl should face life imprisonment because he holds him responsible for several deaths that occurred after Bergdahl abandoned his post in 2009, leaving his platoon in Blackfoot Company.
“Was it during the search for Bergdahl that we lost men in Blackfoot company? No. But was it as a result of that search and as a result of him leaving that we lost members of Blackfoot company? Yes,” Korder said in a telephone interview.
The Pentagon has said there’s no evidence anyone died searching for Bergdahl. But his commanding officers in Afghanistan testified last month at an Article 32 hearing — which reviewed evidence against Bergdahl — that a 45-day search for him put soldiers in danger.
Bergdahl was captured by the Taliban after leaving his post in June 2009, and held until last year, when he was exchanged for five Taliban commanders. Bergdahl was charged in March with desertion and misbehavior before the enemy, a charge that carries up to life in prison.
Eugene Fidell, Bergdahl’s attorney, said Saturday Lt. Col. Mark Visger has recommended that Bergdahl’s case be referred to a special court martial, which is a misdemeanor-level forum. It limits the maximum punishment to reduction in rank, a bad-conduct discharge and a term of up to a year in prison.
Fidell also said Visger, who presided over last month’s hearing in Texas, recommended that there be no prison time or punitive discharge against Bergdahl.
Korder, who now lives outside Detroit, said other platoon members he’s kept in contact with since leaving the Army have long believed Bergdahl will not face legal consequences for his actions.
“They’re very disheartened with the whole procedure and a lot of them saw it coming, that they felt like he was not going to be punished,” he said.
Gen. Robert Abrams, the commanding general of U.S. Army Forces Command, will ultimately decide whether the case should be referred to a court-martial. No timeline has been given for a decision from Abrams.
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