Staff Sgt. Bales faced with 17 counts of murder
A U.S. staff sergeant accused of killing civilians, mostly women and children, in the Kandahar province of Afghanistan on March 11 will formally face 17 counts of murder on Friday.
Staff sergeant Robert Bales, 38, will be read his charges at Fort Leavenworth military prison, located in Kansas, where he is currently being held in solitary confinement. Six accounts of assault and attempted murder will likely be added to the four-year combat veteran’s list of charges, a U.S official told BBC News.
Sgt. Bales is the only suspect known for committing the killings and it is unclear to why he will be charged with 17 counts since officials had listed 16 deaths connected to the massacre, The Los Angeles Times reported.
“This was a planned activity and we will certainly take revenge on all American forces in Afghanistan and don’t trust such trials,” Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said in a telephone interview with Reuters.
U.S officials are determined to show the people of Afghanistan that the U.S will hold Sgt. Bales accountable for his cruel actions, even if the court-martial takes years.
However, Mujahid argued that they fail to believe that only one soldier was involved in the killings.
“Now America tries to deceive the people and tries to blame the act on one soldier. This is a crime by the American government. Using such cleverness and deception is a huge crime,” he said.
Bales’ lawyer, John Henry Browne, said the case lacked forensic evidence supporting the events that took place during the March 11 massacre. Browne argued that Sgt. Bales had suffered a serious concussion and that his his brain injuries were left untreated. Furthermore, U.S officials and Browne stated that Bales was intoxicated and recollected “very little” of the killings that took place.
Bales paid $300 to dismiss charges of criminal assault in 2002 after threatening a customer in Tacoma, Washington on a night of drinking.