US Sgt. Robert Bales
Charged in Connection to Afghan Massacre
March 26, 2012
The U.S. military has filed murder charges against Army Staff Sergeant
Robert Bales in connection to the killings of 17 Afghan villagers,
including nine children.
Bales now faces 17 counts of pre-mediated murder and a possible death
sentence. He heard the formal charges on Friday.
The case stems from the killing of 17 villagers in Kandahar province on
March 11, near a U.S. military outpost where Bales was stationed.
Afghan witnesses say Bales stabbed and shot the villagers, and set some
of them on fire. A number of children were among the victims.
Bales' attorney spoke to reporters this week after meeting with his
client for several hours.
“He has an early memory of that evening and he has a later memory of
that evening. But he doesn’t have memory of in between,” said Bales'
defense attorney, John Henry Browne.
Like many other U.S. service members in this decade of war, Bales had
multiple deployments. He was on his fourth combat tour and suffered a
brain injury in an earlier deployment. That has fueled questions about
combat stress, frequent deployments and head injuries.
None of those questions or possibilities are quelling the anger of some
Afghans who were already upset by another recent incident - the
inadvertent destruction of the Quran by U.S. service members.
March 11 massacre has sparked calls for revenge and harsh justice.
"We demand from the court in the United States to give the death penalty
to the U.S soldier who massacred the civilians, because he deserves
hanging, because he committed the biggest crime. We want a punishment
based on Islamic sharia law."
The case has raised tensions between the U.S. and Afghan governments.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai has demanded that U.S. troops - scheduled
to be in his country for two more years - stay out of Afghan villages.
For now, Bales is at a military prison in the U.S. state of Kansas,
awaiting word on his fate.