The Latest: Bergdahl hearing ends; atty calls it 1-day AWOL

AP News
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Posted: Sep 18, 2015 4:56 PM
The Latest: Bergdahl hearing ends; atty calls it 1-day AWOL

SAN ANTONIO (AP) — The latest on the hearing to determine if Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl should face a court-martial on desertion and other charges for leaving his post in Afghanistan six years ago. All times are local.

3:55 p.m.

Bowe Bergdahl's lead attorney says there is enough evidence to show that the Army sergeant's case should be treated as a one-day stint of being away without leave, not a more serious violation.

Eugene Fidell's remarks came Friday toward the end of a hearing to help determine if Bergdahl should face a court-martial for walking away from his post in Afghanistan in 2009.

Military prosecutor Margaret Kurz says that the Idaho native should face a court-martial because she says his decision led to a lengthy search that put other soldiers in danger.

The presiding officer will forward his recommendations to the commanding general of U.S. Army Forces Command, who will decide whether it should be referred to a court-martial or be resolved in another manner.

2:55 p.m.

A Department of Defense official who helped debrief Bowe Bergdahl after the Army sergeant was recovered in a prisoner exchange says Bergdahl was subjected to horrific abuse during his five years in captivity.

Terrence Russell testified Friday that Bergdahl suffered under conditions worse than any American prisoner of war since the Vietnam War.

He says Bergdahl's Taliban captors treated him like a "dirty animal," beat him with rubber and copper hoses, and gave him little food and water. He says Bergdahl had uncontrollable diarrhea for years and was kept in a metal cage for three years.

Russell was the fourth and final witness called to testify at a hearing to help determine if Bergdahl will face a court-martial for walking away from his post in Afghanistan six years ago.

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12:30 p.m.

The Army officer who conducted the investigation into Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl's disappearance says he doesn't believe Bergdahl should go to prison for walking away from his post in Afghanistan six years ago.

Maj. Gen. Kenneth Dahl testified Friday at a hearing to help determine if Bergdahl should face a court-martial on desertion and other charges.

He says Bergdahl told him he felt there were serious problems among his unit's leadership that endangered his platoon and that he needed to tell a general about them.

Dahl says Bergdahl's planned to head from his post to the forward operating base roughly 19 miles away and thought the attention from the resulting search would get a general to listen to him.

He says Bergdahl was "completely off the mark" about his unit.

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10:40 a.m.

A nurse practitioner says Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl suffers from extensive injuries caused by his five years as a Taliban captive and he doesn't think Bergdahl is fit to remain in the military.

Curtis Aberle works at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, where Bergdahl has been stationed since returning to the U.S. last year. He testified Friday at Bergdahl's Article 32 hearing in Texas that Bergdahl will need a lifetime of medical care.

Aberle says Bergdahl suffers from muscular nerve damage in his lower legs, a degenerative disc in his lower back and an injury that has left him with limited movement in his shoulder. He says Bergdahl was kept in a crouched position for extended periods, which caused the injuries.

Aberle also says Bergdahl suffers from post-traumatic stress syndrome.

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10:20 a.m.

Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl's former squad leader in Afghanistan says Bergdahl wasn't adjusting well to their deployment and that he suggested to higher-ups that Bergdahl speak to someone, such as a chaplain.

Former Army Sgt. Greg Leatherman testified Friday that Bergdahl was introverted and didn't do many things with the other soldiers. He says he expressed his worries about Bergdahl to his first sergeant and that he was told to drop the matter.

Leatherman said: "First-sergeant said he didn't want one of his guys telling him what was wrong with somebody in his company."

Leatherman was the first witness called by Bergdahl's lawyers to testify during Bergdahl's Article 32 hearing. The hearing will help determine if Bergdahl should face a military trial on charges of desertion and misbehavior before the enemy.

Note: This item has been changed to correct the spelling of Leatherman's name in the last paragraph. It had been misspelled "Leather."

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9:30 a.m.

Bowe Bergdahl's lead attorney says the Army sergeant won't be testifying at the hearing to help determine if he should face a court-martial for leaving his post in Afghanistan six years ago.

Eugene Fidell said Friday before beginning his defense of Bergdahl that the lengthy sworn statement Bergdahl gave military investigators last year includes everything relevant he has to say about his situation.

Bergdahl is charged with desertion and misbehavior before the enemy. If he's tried and convicted of the misbehavior charge, he could get life in prison.

The Article 32 is being held at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, where Bergdahl has been stationed since being recovered in a prisoner exchange with the Taliban after five years in captivity.