ARUN RATH, HOST:
The fate of Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl is now in the hands of his superior officers. An Article 32 hearing was held this week at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio. That's the preceding that will determine whether or not Bergdahl will face a court-martial on charges of desertion and misbehavior before the enemy. If convicted, Bergdahl could be sentenced to life in prison. NPR's Wade Goodwyn has been covering the hearing and has this report.
WADE GOODWYN, BYLINE: By far the most serious charge Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl could face is the allegation of misbehavior before the enemy. That's the charge that brings with it the threat of life in prison. The Article 32 hearing was to decide whether or not Bergdahl should be court-martialed, and if so, on one or both of the charges. Desertion brings the possibility of five years in prison. Misbehavior before the enemy is a very unusual charge. In the past, it's mostly been used when soldiers don't do their duty when under attack, like if a soldier runs away or throws down his weapon and surrenders without any attempt to put up a fight. Army prosecutors spent much of the hearing focusing on evidence that might support that accusation, like the hardships soldiers suffered when looking for Bergdahl and trying to demonstrate that the enemy was nearby. The preliminary hearing officer, Lt. Col. Mark Visger, will make a recommendation sometime in the next month as to the accusations. Maj. Gen. Robert Abrams will then take Visger's recommendation and decide if the sergeant should be court-martialed. Wade Goodwyn, NPR News, San Antonio. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.