Afghanistan Massacre Suspect Sgt. Robert Bales to Be Charged With Murder, Other Crimes
Army Staff Sgt. Robert Bales will be charged with 17 counts of murder, assault and a string of other offenses in the massacre of Afghan villagers as they slept, a U.S. official said.
The charges signed against Bales include 17 counts of murder, six counts of attempted murder and six counts of aggravated assault as well as dereliction of duty and other violations of military law, the official said on condition of anonymity because the charges had not been announced.
Army Staff Sergeant Robert Bales, the soldier held in the Afghan massacre, told his civilian attorney John Henry Browne he has no memory from the shooting.
The 38-year-old soldier and father of two who lives in Lake Tapps, Wash., will be charged with going on a shooting rampage in two villages near his Southern Afghanistan military post in the early hours of March 11, gunning down nine Afghan children and eight adults and burning some of the victims’ bodies.
The charges are to be read to Bales on Friday. He is being held in a military prison at Fort Leavenworth in Kansas and faces trial under the Uniform Code of Military Justice.
The killings were yet another blow to U.S-Afghan relations, following a series of missteps, including the accidental burning of Qurans, which prompted violent protests and revenge killings American troops in the war zone.
The brutal shooting rampage also prompted renewed debate in the United States about health care for the troops, who have experienced record suicide rates and high rates of post-traumatic stress and brain injuries during repeated deployments over a decade of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Bales was on his fourth tour of duty, having served three tours in Iraq, where he suffered a head injury and a foot injury.
Bales’ civilian attorney, John Henry Browne, has portrayed his client as a patriot, loving father and devoted husband who had been traumatized by a comrade’s injury and sent into combat one too many times.