A judge in the case against U.S. Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl has ruled that injuries to fellow military personnel who were wounded while searching for Bergdahl can be used as factors in the sentencing phase of his upcoming trial.
Bergdahl is charged with endangering other service members by walking off his post in Afghanistan in 2009 as well as desertion. His military trial will be held in October.
Judge Colonel Jeffery Nance ruled Friday that service members who wound up in firefights and got wounded would not have been injured if they were not searching for Bergdahl.
Bergdahl’s attorneys argued that he should not be held responsible for the decisions and actions of military personnel who were involved in the search.
The judge had previously ruled that the injures sustained by service members who were looking for Bergdahl cannot be used in the first part of the trial, in which Bergdahl’s guilt or innocence will be determined. However, he said the sentencing phase of the trial has a different standard of evidence.
Bergdahl was stationed in the Afghan province of Paktia when he left his post without permission in 2009. He was subsequently captured by allies of the Taliban and held captive for five years.
The Obama administration secured his release in a prisoner swap that touched off a firestorm of criticism from Republicans in Congress. Some lawmakers accused the administration of aiding a deserter and complained that Congress did not receive a required 30-day warning about the transfer of foreign prisoners in U.S. custody who were freed in exchange for Bergdahl's release.
Bergdahl's lawyers said their client walked away from his post to warn officers at another base about problems in his unit.
Bergdahl has been working at a desk job at a Texas Army base until his legal case is resolved.