US soldier formally charged for massacre

2012-03-23 23:12

Kabul - A US soldier was formally charged on Friday with the "premeditated murders" of 17 civilians in a village in southern Afghanistan, US forces said in a statement released in Kabul.

Staff Sergeant Robert Bales, of the 2nd Battalion, 3rd Infantry, was also accused of six counts of assault and attempted murder in the Panjwai district of Kandahar province earlier this month.

The massacre, in which most of the victims were women and children, is believed to be the deadliest war crime by a Nato soldier during the decade-long conflict and has further strained the already difficult relationship between Washington and Kabul.

The US military statement said that under the its code of justice, "the maximum possible punishment for a premeditated murder conviction is a dishonourable discharge from the Armed Forces, reduction to the lowest enlisted grade, total forfeiture of pay and allowances, and death".

The mandatory minimum sentence is life imprisonment with the possibility of parole, it added.
There are six US servicemen currently on military death row, but no executions have been carried out for around 50 years, officials said.

Trial likely to be in US

Bales, 38, is currently being held at Fort Leavenworth in Kansas, and a US forces spokesperson said it was "more than likely" the trial would be held in the US, although no decision had yet been made.

The next stage will be for Bales to appear before a so-called Article 32 hearing, which will decide whether to proceed with the charges - but the military has almost four months in which hold it.

A spokesperson for Afghan President Hamid Karzai said: "We want justice and we want it as soon as possible."

Relatives of the victims have demanded the proceedings take place in Afghanistan.

A US official told AFP that the murder victims were nine children, four women and four men, with four children, one man and one woman wounded.

After the massacre it was widely reported that 16 people had been killed, but the US military spokesperson said: "The evidence available to the prosecution team indicates 17 victims of premeditated murder."

All 17 had died at or around the time of the incident, he added, denying rumours that one of the injured had succumbed in hospital, or that one of the women victims was pregnant.

  • bluzulu - 2012-03-23 23:31

    If anyone deserved the death penalty,it's this criminal.

      Fred - 2012-03-24 00:24

      Ever think he might be mentally ill?

      Pierre - 2012-03-24 00:48

      Fred - Initially you said there was no evidence. Now you try to cover up the crime with mental illness. You seem to have a problem in accepting that Americans can be so wrong. Why are your enemies always just cold blooded killers, but your own soldiers is granted all kinds of excuse for extreme excesses?

      Jameel - 2012-03-24 01:26

      They only become ill once they commit the sick crime before that they all fine, i think they all sick int first place to go into a country and not know who the fighting and why.

      Fred - 2012-03-24 01:27

      What are you talking about? I never said any of that.

      Fred - 2012-03-24 02:03

      Jameel, do you have anything to say about the hundreds of thousands of your fellow Muslims being killed and maimed by the Jihadists who you're supporting with this thought?

  • Tim - 2012-03-23 23:59

    This was one sick f**k. If this guy went and massacred 17 American women, children and men and afterwards burnt their bodies ...would the media honestly have cared about his state of mind at that time? Not for once can I recall that the state of mind of ANY of the 9/11 murderers was used to legitimize their action. This guy is a mass murderer...exterminate him!

      Fred - 2012-03-24 00:23

      And your conclusion is not sick?

      Pierre - 2012-03-24 00:55

      @Fred - Tim made a very valid point. Why do we only hear that the enemy is cold blooded killers, but there are always multiple excuses for the allied (or our own) soldiers? Could a suicide bomber not have been driven to those extremes after seeing his family killed with a NATO bomb or being tortured and humiliated at an American prison like Abu Ghraib?

      Jameel - 2012-03-24 01:21

      Thank you Pierre

      Fred - 2012-03-24 01:34

      Firstly Pierre, you're Muslim. You're not Pierre with a quasi Union Jack flag. Do your posts are essentially dishonest because you start off lying. Secondly, Abu Graib happened after 9/11. Thirdly, exactly which NATO bombs are you talking about, aimed at what targets, which Turkey, a country of 73 million Muslims and Nato's second-largest member, participated in?

      Fred - 2012-03-24 01:39

      Jameel, you should rise above narrow tribal loyalties and see a higher truth. Your fellow Muslims are being bombed to smithereens by the hundreds of thousands by Jihadists who want to take you and the world back 2,500 years and who stone women to death with impunity. They'll take your computer away in a heart beat, unless you do what they say. The freer world is countering them, and you should be supporting this. Islam is being given a horrendous name and image by your lack of courage to stand up and say no more.

      Fred - 2012-03-24 01:41

      And you should both drop your pseudo-victim and martyr mentality. It's distructive and dangerous.

      Jameel - 2012-03-24 01:49

      Fred for once i agree with you, taking the life of another is unacceptable if its not justified, and i with many Muslims say no to suicide killings of the innocent, these are bad Muslims but its not Islam as you mentioned..

      Jameel - 2012-03-24 01:51

      oops but lets agree that USA is not aiding the cause..

      Fred - 2012-03-24 02:06

      They absolutely are. And strangely we have 9/11 to thank for that or the US would not be taking the fight to them, bringing the whole thing to a head sooner rather than later.

      Fred - 2012-03-24 02:07

      But glad you're speaking up Jameel

  • Afsar Khan - 2012-03-24 06:19

    Open your eyes Fred. This is the world we live in. Wars are fought solely to protect economic interests, wars are created to increase profit margins these innocent and millions more were murdered to protect these interests. Long before any action is taken the projections are done No probability of profits, equals No war! No government will invest billions into a venture that will yield a loss.

      Fred - 2012-03-24 06:38

      That's a reductionist view, and too econo-centric IMO.

  • Afsar Khan - 2012-03-24 06:40

    Lets assume for this argument that this report is correct( i read yesterday that there maybe more than one soldier involved???) Wars are unnatural especially when fought purely for economic gain and this is evident in the psychological breakdowns that mostly American soldiers experience they often return home dissallusioned with their government and its policies, why make war to make peace, surely this is not the way

      bluzulu - 2012-03-24 08:10

      Lets get honest here Afsar, If the Arabs want to stop the US in their tracks all the Arab nation has to do is ask to be paid for their Oil in Euro's and goodbye US superpower by the end of the week.Please note people how all trade on International waters is completed in US dollars. With all this in the US favour, they still continue to live on over inflated markets.

      Fred - 2012-03-24 12:57

      bluzulu, you're repeating the same delusionary and self-destructive nonsense on page after page of this website.

      Fred - 2012-03-24 13:00

      Afsar, you're making things up to suit your personal beliefs. "The psychological breakdowns that mostly American soldiers experience. They often return home disillusioned with their government and policies". There's no sense in creating a pretend world. No one takes notice because it doesn't apply to anything actually happening. It's instantaneously irrelevant.

  • Afsar Khan - 2012-03-24 06:44

    Ok reductionist view, but you would have to agree that if America didn't have the money they wouldn't be in Afghanistan or Iraq or Saudi Arabia or Palestine or any of the places they are in? Fred its all about the Moola!

      Fred - 2012-03-24 13:01

      It's a silly fantasy, nightmare actually, because you'd be dead broke in a world up in flames, literally.

  • Afsar Khan - 2012-03-24 06:53

    One other thing Fred have you ever been to Afghanistan? I promise you there are people there with families brothers and sisters uncles and aunts the whole deal no really there are, and they love one another like family should, our woman love us and we them, all they are looking for is a NORMAL life go home America, go get your oil and gas from somewhere else to fuel your capitalist empire which in the end is only harming our world ( which in my opinion is a better reason to topple a government) all we want is peace!

      Fred - 2012-03-24 13:10

      I'm not sure what your point is, other than to blame the US for your ills, or for anything for that matter because it's popular in your community. Afghanistan doesn't have oil and minimal developed gas resources. The US (Nato actually, which includes Turkey, a country of 73 million Muslims) is there because Al-Quaida and the Taliban is waging war on the freer world that has claimed the lives of hundreds of thousands of people, mainly Muslims, ironically and tragically. All you want is peace? Maybe you do, but Al-Quaida and the Taliban don't. And neither do the unelected dictators in the Middle East who you seem to support who have been pumping arms to the Palestinians and abusing them for decades, by inciting them to violence to distract their populations from their disenfranchised state.

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