Thursday the 17th of September 2015 was the opening day for Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl’s Article 32 hearing. Major Margaret Kurx led the Army’s prosecution team, and opened with stinging remarks concerning Bergdahl’s behavior. She said that Bergdahl deserted his post with “deliberate and knowing disregard for the consequences of his actions.” She added that his desertion also endangered other soldiers who went out to search for him. Bergdahl is charged with leaving his post in Afghanistan. His disappearance led to more than 40 days of searching for him.
This probable cause hearing will issue a report that will be used to determine if the case against Bergdahl is strong enough for the Army to move to a court-martial trial. Other legal options are also available. The hearing was held at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, Texas. Bergdahl is being defended by Eugene Fidell, as well as two defense attorneys from the Army. If convicted, Bergdahl could face up to five years on the charge of desertion with intent to shirk hazardous or important duty and up to life in prison on the charge of misbehavior before the enemy. Bergdahl is 29.
Testimony was given by several service members including from Capt. J. Billings, Bergdahl’s former platoon commander. He testified that Bergdahl had been an excellent soldier right up to his leaving his post on 30 June 2009. He also said that after Bergdahl’s disappearance, operations changed drastically and search parties were sent out as it was thought that Bergdahl had been captured.
Bergdahl remained missing for five years until a prisoner trade caused his release. In addition to Billings’ testimony, Bergdahl’s company commander, Major S. Silvino, took the stand, as well as Col. C. Baker, Bergdahl’s former battalion commander. Both officers described the various hardships put upon troops as they continued to search for Bergdahl.
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