Judge rules no jail time for Bergdahl

Judge rules no jail time for Bergdahl

A U.S. army sergeant, who was court martialled after deserting his post in Afghanistan, has been given a dishonorable discharge.

"The decision on Sergeant Bergdahl is a complete and total disgrace to our Country and to our Military", Trump tweeted from Air Force One, as he headed to Asia for a marathon trip of almost two weeks.

Army Col. Judge Jeffery R. Nance said Bergdahl will be dishonorably discharged when issuing the ruling Friday after almost two weeks of testimony by Bergdahl's former comrades.

The judge, Col. Jeffery Nance, reduced Bergdahl's military grade to the lowest level in announcing his sentence.

Bergdahl had faced up to life in prison after pleading guilty to charges of desertion and endangering his fellow troops.

In court, Bergdahl appeared tense, grimaced and clenched his jaw.

But prosecutors hoped to prove that Bergdahl endangered his comrades by abandoning his post and called for a 14-year prison sentence.

Bergdahl's team had also argued in court that he should receive a lighter sentence because he cooperated with government officials upon his return and was able to provide them with intelligence about the Taliban. He called the case a "terrible ordeal" for Bergdahl.

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Prosecutors said the soldier should spend 14 years behind bars for endangering USA troops in Afghanistan. The dishonorable discharge means he won't be eligible for VA healthcare or other veterans benefits.

During the multiday sentencing hearing, Bergdahl testified that he was sorry for the wounds suffered by searchers.

Fidell said Bergdahl was especially grateful for "those who heroically sustained injuries" searching for him after he left his combat outpost in Paktika province in June 2009 without permission.

In May 2014, Bergdahl was handed over to United States special operations forces in Afghanistan in exchange for five Taliban detainees, who were released from Guantanamo Bay prison and flown to Qatar.

Republicans roundly criticised Mr Obama, and Mr Trump went further while campaigning for the presidency, repeatedly calling Bergdahl a traitor who deserved serious punishment.

Prosecutors had sought stiff punishment because of wounds to service members who searched for Bergdahl after he disappeared in 2009.

Capt. Nina Banks, a defense attorney, said it wouldn't be justice to rescue Bergdahl from the Taliban "only to place him in a cell" now.

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