Bergdahl Judge Hears of Injuries During Search

By Erik De La Garza

(CN) – Military prosecutors on Monday urged a judge to allow evidence of two U.S. soldiers’ injuries in the search for Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, whose court-martial for charges of endangering other military members was pushed back three months.

The arguments came during a pretrial hearing at Fort Bragg, where a military officer testified that he saw one soldier shot in the head during the 2009 search for Bergdahl. He reportedly suffered a traumatic brain injury and is now in a wheelchair, while another soldier’s hand injuries from a rocket-propelled grenade required surgery.

Prosecutors argued that evidence of the two soldiers’ injuries should be allowed into the case to help prove that Bergdahl’s decision to walk off his post put troops at risk.

Bergdahl, 30, was immediately captured and spent five years as a Taliban prisoner after disappearing from his combat outpost in Afghanistan in 2009. He faces up to five years for desertion and up to life in a military prison for misbehavior before the enemy, if he’s found guilty.

Army Judge Col. Jeffery R. Nance on Monday agreed to push Bergdahl’s trial back from February until May 15, 2017, to allow prosecutors more time to sift through classified evidence.

Claims that U.S. troops were injured and even killed during the search for Bergdahl have continued to dog him since the Obama administration agreed in 2014 to swap the soldier for five Taliban detainees being held at Guantanamo Bay, a move still criticized by Republicans, including President-elect Donald Trump.

The government announced early on that it did not intend to produce evidence that any soldiers died searching for Bergdahl. The Army’s lead investigator into the case, Maj. Gen. Kenneth Dahl, concluded that no U.S. troops were killed during the search.

Testimony is expected to continue Tuesday.