Bergdahl charges referred to trial

Military charges against US Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl, a former prisoner of the Taliban in Afghanistan charged with desertion, have been referred for trial by general court-martial.

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Bergdahl, 29, was charged earlier this year with desertion and misbehaviour before the enemy.

He faces up to life in prison if convicted of the more serious offence of misbehaviour.

The date of the arraignment hearing at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, will be announced at a later date, the US Army Forces Command said in a statement on Monday.

US military prosecutors said in September at a preliminary hearing to establish probable cause that Bergdahl, held for five years before being swapped in 2014 for five Taliban leaders, deliberately left his post.

The prosecutors said at the preliminary hearing, held at the military post in San Antonio where Bergdahl has been stationed since his return, that he launched a plan weeks in the making.

They said there was sufficient evidence to hold him for trial on charges of desertion and misbehaviour before the enemy.

Major General Kenneth Dahl, who led the military’s investigation of Bergdahl’s disappearance and capture, testified at the hearing in September that Bergdahl was not a Taliban sympathiser and recommended that he serve no prison time.

Dahl characterised Bergdahl as an unrealistically idealistic soldier who left his post to report concerns about his unit’s leadership to a general at another base.

“I do not believe that there is a jail sentence at the end of this process,” said Dahl, who led 22 people in the two-month investigation and interviewed Bergdahl for a day and a half.

Bergdahl’s story is the subject of the second season of the hit podcast Serial which launched last week.

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