A military judge has ruled that Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl will receive no jail time for deserting his post in Afghanistan in 2009 after agreeing to consider tweets and remarks made by President Trump calling for Bergdahl’s execution a mitigating factor in the sentencing.
The judge, Col. Jeffrey Nance, stripped Bergdahl of his rank and will be dishonorably discharged. The judge also ordered him to pay $1,000 per month for 10 months.
Bergdahl, 31, faced a maximum sentence of life in prison after he pled guilty last month to charges of desertion and misbehavior before the enemy. Prosecutors had recommended a sentence of 14 years of in prison.
Defense attorneys asked the judge for no prison time, arguing Bergdahl had suffered enough confinement during five years of brutal captivity by Taliban allies.
Bergdahl’s defense lawyers twice tried to have his case dismissed over controversial campaign trail comments made by Donald Trump, who repeatedly called him a traitor who should be executed.
“We’re tired of Sgt. Bergdahl, who’s a traitor, a no-good traitor, who should have been executed,” Trump said at an October 2015 rally.
“Thirty years ago, he would have been shot,” he added.
The Hill adds:
Nance ruled Bergdahl can get a fair trial despite Trump’s comments, but said he would consider them as a mitigating factor in the sentencing.
In an emotional sentencing hearing over the past week, prosecutors called soldiers who were seriously injured in the search for Bergdahl. Among those who testified was the wife of a soldier who was shot in the head and suffered a traumatic brain injury that left him unable to speak. Bergdahl also unexpectedly took the stand and offered a tearful apology for his decision to walk off his post, which he has said he did to alert his superiors to issues at the base.
“My words can’t take away what people have been through,” Bergdahl said last week. “I am admitting I made a horrible mistake.”