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Cowardice charges against soldier dropped

/ Source: The Associated Press

The military has decided not to pursue charges against a U.S. soldier accused of cowardice after he sought help for panic attacks.

After Staff Sgt. Georg-Andreas Pogany asked for counseling while in Iraq, his commanders sent him home to Fort Carson to face a court-martial on a cowardice charge, which can be punishable by death.

The Army later replaced it with the lesser dereliction-of-duty charge, which could have put Pogany behind bars for six months.

On Thursday, Pogany and military officials confirmed the case is finished.

Sgt. 1st Class Blake Waltman, a public affairs officer with the Army’s Special Operations Command at Fort Bragg, N.C., said charges have been dropped because the military has learned Pogany “may have a medical problem that requires care and treatment.”

Pogany, 32, had been the first U.S. soldier since Vietnam to be charged with cowardice.

A five-year veteran, Pogany said his problems surfaced after he saw the mangled body of an Iraqi man cut in half by American gunfire.

Pogany said he has physical and psychological problems that stem from brain damage caused by a reaction to the anti-malaria drug Lariam. He is part of a military study looking into complaints from U.S. troops exposed to drugs and chemicals.

Pogany, assigned to a Green Beret interrogation team with the 10th Special Forces Group, began vomiting after seeing the Iraqi civilian’s body three days after being sent to Iraq.

Pogany said he hopes to retire from the Army soon.