Army wants 14-year term for Bergdahl

The Mercury News Weekend - - OTHER VIEWS - ByAlexHor­ton The Washington Post

FORT BRAGG, N.C. » Army pros­e­cu­tors rec­om­mended Thurs­day that Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who has pleaded guilty to de­sert­ing his Army post in Afghanistan, should spend 14 years in prison and be stripped of­most ben­e­fits af­forded to mil­i­tary veter­ans, in­clud­ing health care.

Bergdahl’s lawyers, cit­ing med­i­cal ex­perts’ de­ter­mi­na­tion that prison time could ex­ac­er­bate his frag­ile men­tal health, have sug­gested he re­ceive a dis­hon­or­able dis­charge only, which in ad­di­tion to the loss of health care could greatly com­pli­cate his fu­ture em­ploy­ment op­tions.

The judge, Army Col. Jef­fery Nance, closed the court Thurs­day to de­lib­er­ate. In ad­di­tion to the de­ser­tion charges, Bergdahl, 31, also has pleaded guilty to mis­be­hav­ior be­fore the en­emy, which car­ries a max­i­mum life sen­tence. Nance is ex­pected to make his de­ci­sion as early as to­day.

Capt. Nina Banks, who gave the de­fense’s re­marks, said the pun­ish­ment for Bergdahl’s “hor­ri­ble de­ci­sion” was mostly paid out by his years in cap­tiv­ity.

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