An apparent security lapse last week enabled a convicted murderer to access Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl’s sentencing hearing, where the individual made threatening remarks about the former Taliban prisoner.

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FORT BRAGG, N.C. — An apparent security lapse last week enabled a convicted murderer to access Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl’s sentencing hearing, where the individual made threatening remarks about the former Taliban prisoner, who has pleaded guilty to desertion and misbehavior before the enemy.

George Marecek, 85, was only a few feet from Bergdahl on Wednesday when he turned to another individual seated in the courtroom gallery and said: “I’ll be glad when this crap is over. I got my firing squad standing by.” Marecek’s comment was overheard by a Washington Post reporter. Bergdahl’s attorneys overheard Marecek make other threatening statements and alerted the prosecution, who, in turn, notified authorities.

The Army has refused to answer questions about the incident, which alarmed court officers and triggered a security alert at this sprawling military complex outside of Fayetteville, North Carolina, according to three people with direct knowledge of the matter. They spoke on the condition of anonymity, citing the extreme sensitivity surrounding Bergdahl’s legal proceedings.

Bergdhal, 31, faces life in prison, having pleaded guilty earlier this month to charges that stem from his 2009 disappearance in Afghanistan. He was captured by the Taliban and held hostage for five years, routinely enduring torture before his release was secured as part of a prisoner exchange in 2014.

The sentencing hearing began Oct. 23 with a motion from Bergdahl’s attorneys to dismiss the case. They argue that President Donald Trump improperly used his position as commander in chief to interfere in the process when he referred back to inflammatory statements he made during the presidential campaign. Trump, at the time, called Bergdahl “a dirty, rotten traitor” and suggested he should be executed. The judge, Army Col. Jeffery Nance, is yet to rule on the motion.

Marecek, a retired Army colonel, is a highly decorated Green Beret whose bravery during the Vietnam War earned him a Distinguished Service Cross and Silver Star, prestigious valor awards that rank second and third, respectively, behind only the Medal of Honor. Decades later, in 2000, he was convicted of second-degree murder and sentenced to 30 years in prison for killing his wife in 1991. Marecek spent three years at a state correctional facility before earning an early release in 2003.

Marecek did not respond to a phone message seeking comment.