Bergdahl Appeal Will Push Back Court-Martial Trial Originally Scheduled For April

Mar 29, 2017

Credit Idaho National Guard

Lawyers for U.S. Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl are continuing their efforts to have the desertion case against their client dismissed because of disparaging remarks made by Donald Trump while he was campaigning for president.

Bergdahl’s lawyers on Thursday filed an appeal with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces, claiming that Trump’s repeated comments calling Bergdahl a traitor, wrongly insisting that six soldiers lost their lives searching for Bergdahl and saying he should be executed makes it impossible for the Hailey native to received a fair trial.

The appeal was filed after a military judge, Army Col. Jeffery Nance, ruled last month that Trump’s statements were troubling but would not prevent Bergdahl from receiving a fair trial.

Bergdahl was scheduled to go on trial April 18 on charges of desertion and misbehavior before the enemy. He walked off his post in Afghanistan in 2009. He was later captured by a group friendly with the Taliban and held hostage until a prisoner exchange was arranged in 2014.

Unrelated to the appeal, Nance rescheduled that trial to begin Aug. 8.

If convicted of misbehavior before the enemy, Bergdahl could be sentenced up to life in prison.

During the presidential campaign, Trump repeatedly called Bergdahl a “dirty rotten traitor” and told rally audiences that he should be executed. He suggested Bergdahl be thrown out of an airplane without a parachute in an area controlled by the Islamic State.

“If I win, I might just have him floating in the middle of that place and drop him, boom. Let ’em have him. Let ’em have him. I mean, that’s cheaper than a bullet,” Trump said Oct. 16, 2015, at a rally in Tyngsboro, Mass.

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