- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 30, 2003

FORT CARSON, Colo. (AP) — The Army dropped a charge of dereliction of duty against a Special Forces interrogator who was accused of cowardice, but the soldier’s military career is still in limbo.

Staff Sgt. Georg-Andreas Pogany, 32, was awaiting word from prosecutors on whether the case was over or if he still faced a court-martial, his attorney said Monday.

Sgt. Pogany, an Army interrogator assigned to the 10th Special Forces Group, was charged with cowardice Oct. 14 after suffering what he described as a panic attack from seeing a mangled body of an Iraqi man who had been cut in half by American gunfire in Iraq.

After he asked for counseling, Sgt. Pogany’s commanders sent him back to Fort Carson to face a court-martial on a charge of cowardice, which can be punishable by death. The Army later replaced it with the lesser dereliction-of-duty charge, which could have put Sgt. Pogany behind bars for six months.

The Army dropped that charge Dec. 18 and offered Sgt. Pogany a hearing on nonjudicial punishment, called an Article 15, for dereliction of duty. Instead Sgt. Pogany requested a court-martial, which is like a civilian trial in which a judge or jury decides the defendant’s fate.

The Army is reviewing its options, officials said. It could refile charges or let the matter die, said Richard Bridges, a public-affairs officer at Fort Carson.

Sgt. Pogany’s attorney, Richard Travis, said the accused has fewer legal rights in an Article 15 hearing than in a court-martial, and Sgt. Pogany feared his fate in such a hearing would have been decided by the officer who brought the charge against him.

An Article 15 conviction could have resulted in military confinement, docked pay and rank, and a less-than-honorable discharge, Mr. Travis said.

Sgt. Pogany is a five-year veteran who had a stellar service record until this fall.

Two Army psychologists say Sgt. Pogany has no psychological disorders, but that he showed symptoms consistent with normal combat-stress reactions. Sgt. Pogany has said his panic attack may have been caused by an anti-malaria drug he and other Fort Carson soldiers took in September before leaving for Iraq.

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