Presiding Officer in Bergdahl Case Recommends No Jail Time

Presiding Officer in Bergdahl case recommends no jail time

According to Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl's defense team, Lt. Col. Mark Visger, who presided over Bergdahl's preliminary hearing, recommended that he not face any jail time for charges of desertion and misbehavior before the enemy. Visger further recommended that Bergdahl's case be referred to a special court martial, which handles minor infractions that carry a maximum penalty of one year in jail.

In June 2009, Sgt. Bergdahl wandered away from his U.S. Army outpost in a remote province of Afghanistan. Eventually, he was captured by Taliban forces and held captive for five years, until his negotiated release in May 2014.

According to ABC News, Bergdahl's defense team confirmed that Visger "recommended that the charges be referred to a special court martial and that a punitive discharge and confinement would be inappropriate given all the circumstances."

Visger's comments have not been made public, but a statement released by Bergdahl's defense team confirmed his recommendations. A four star general will review Visger's findings from Bergdahl's preliminary hearing before making a final determination.

Visger's recommendations came following Bergdahl's Article 32 hearing last month, which heard testimony from both prosecution and defense witnesses regarding whether Bergdahl should stand trial. Article 32 hearings are required before a defendant can be referred to a general court martial, in order to determine whether there is enough evidence to merit prosecution.

Bergdahl did not testify at the hearing last month. However, evidence was presented at the hearing that suggested he left the base late at night to communicate problems within his unit to a general stationed 19 miles away.

During the hearing, Maj. Gen. Kenneth Dahl, who led the investigation into Bergdahl's actions back in 2009, testified that he did not believe Bergdahl deserved jail time for his actions.

Gen. Robert Abrams, the commander of U.S. Army Forces Command, the presiding authority in Bergdahl's case, will review Lt. Col. Visger's recommendations. Abrams will have the final say as to whether Bergdahl should face a general court martial or a special court martial.

Categories: Court Martial, Army
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