By Eric Ruder
June 10, 2005
SGT. KEVIN Benderman will again face a general court-martial, but the investigating officer has recommended that the Army dismiss some of the charges against him.
Last month, as the Army was set to begin Benderman’s trial, a military judge ruled that a previous investigating officer had been biased against Kevin during the military’s equivalent of a pretrial hearing. The judge ordered that Kevin had a right to a new investigating officer and a new pre-trial hearing.
Seemingly in retaliation, the Army added larceny charges to the existing charges against Kevin of desertion and missing a deployment–because, it claimed, Kevin improperly received combat pay. But the Army itself admits that its own accounting error was at fault–and that more than 100 soldiers at Kevin’s base alone were affected.
The new investigating officer strongly recommended dropping the larceny charge and advocated qualifying the desertion charge. Unfortunately, the Army didn’t downgrade the proceedings against Kevin from a general to a special court-martial. A special court-martial carries a maximum sentence of one year per charge. In a general court-martial, Kevin could face a sentence of 10 years or more.
“At the most, the government can prove Sgt. Benderman went home for the weekend,” said William Cassara, Kevin’s attorney. “When you get past all the histrionics, this case is about–at most–a three-day [absent without leave].” The date for the new court martial is expected in the coming week.
Kevin Benderman is one of a number of soldiers who have resisted the U.S. war machine from the inside. They need the full support of the antiwar movement.