Shooter's lawyer: US hiding evidence

2012-03-30 22:18

Seattle - The attorney for the US soldier accused of killing 17 Afghan civilians said on Friday the US government is "hiding evidence" from the soldier's defence team.

John Henry Browne told The Associated Press that members of the defence team in Afghanistan were told they would have access to witnesses at a hospital, but they later discovered the people had been released.

Browne also said the US government has not turned over files to the lawyers defending Army Staff Sergeant Robert Bales.

The defence team said in a statement the prosecution is withholding information "while potential witnesses scatter".

"It's outrageous," Browne said. "What they are basically doing is hiding evidence. The only reason to hide evidence is if you don't have evidence."

An Army spokesperson did not immediately return a call seeking comment on Browne's allegations.

Bales has been charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder. He remained held at a US military prison at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.

US military officials have said Bales was drinking on a southern Afghanistan base on March 11 before going to two villages at night, shooting his victims and setting many on fire. Nine were children.

The defence statement said the team in Afghanistan tried to interview injured civilians being treated at a hospital in Kandahar but were denied access and told to coordinate with prosecutors.

The prosecution team interviewed the civilians, but the defense team said they were unable to do so after the people were released, and no contact information was provided for them.

Browne's team also said they have been denied access to the civilians' medical records, as well as video allegedly taken from a surveillance blimp showing Bales on the night of the killings.

- AP
Read more on:    robert bales  |  us  |  afghanistan  |  afghanistan shooting
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