Bergdahl case: Judge lets rare misbehavior charge proceed

Bowe Bergdahl
FILE - This undated file image provided by the U.S. Army shows Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl. The Pentagon's inspector general on Dec. 9, 2015, has told a House panel investigating the five Taliban Guantanamo Bay detainees released in exchange for Bergdahl that it found no evidence that a ransom was ever attempted or paid to secure the soldier's release. (U.S. Army via AP, file)

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — The military judge overseeing Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl’s case says prosecutors can try the soldier on a rare charge alleging he endangered comrades by walking off his post in Afghanistan in 2009.

The judge, Col. Jeffery Nance, rejected a defense motion on Thursday to dismiss the charge of misbehavior before the enemy, which carries up to a life sentence.

Bergdahl also faces a desertion charge, punishable by up to 5 years, at trial in October.

Defense lawyers said prosecutors used faulty logic to charge Bergdahl with a crime more serious than his underlying actions.

The judge acknowledged that case law is “scarce” because the misbehavior charge is so rarely used, but he said a soldier who leaves his post alone and without authorization should be aware he could face punishment.