Bergdahl expected to enter guilty plea next week
RALEIGH, N.C. — Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl will appear in court next week to enter an expected guilty plea to charges that he endangered comrades by walking off his remote post in Afghanistan in 2009.
The Army announced that Bergdahl will enter a plea Monday at Fort Bragg. The news release didn’t elaborate on what his plea would entail, but two individuals with knowledge of the case told The Associated Press last week that Bergdahl is expected to plead guilty to desertion and misbehavior before the enemy.
They were not authorized to discuss the case and demanded anonymity.
Prosecutors aren’t saying whether they have agreed to limit Bergdahl’s punishment. The misbehavior charge carries a maximum penalty of life in prison, while the desertion charge is punishable by up to five years.
A lawyer for Bergdahl didn’t immediately return a message seeking comment Thursday.
His trial had been scheduled to begin Oct. 23, but that date is expected to be used for sentencing now. While guilty pleas allow Bergdahl to avoid trial, his sentencing is still likely to include dramatic testimony about service members who were wounded searching for him.
Legal scholars say it will be revealed at Monday’s hearing whether Bergdahl struck a deal with prosecutors, or is simply pleading guilty with hope of leniency from the judge. His five years of imprisonment by the Taliban and its allies could be a factor in his sentencing in either case.