To avoid the death penalty, a US soldier pleaded guilty to slaying 16 civilians, many of them women and children, in the Afghan province of Kandahar. However, survivors and victims’ relatives want Robert Bales executed.
The news about Bales reached the people of the Panjwai district of Kandahar just moments after the Staff Sergeant made his plea before a US military tribunal in Washington State. The inhabitants of the village, where Bales ran amok on March 11, 2012, have been closely monitoring every stage of the trial.
Prosecutors say Bales slipped away before dawn from his base in Kandahar Province. Armed with a pistol and a rifle he attacked neighboring villages and killed or wounded a total of 22 people. Most of the victims were women and children, and some of the bodies were burned. The incident sparked outrage in Afghanistan and among the international community and pushed the already strained US-Afghan ties to a new low.
Military Judge Colonel Jeffery Nance accepted Bales’ guilty pleas, and ruled that the 39-year-old would face a maximum of life behind bars without eligibility for parole. A jury will decide in August whether the soldier is sentenced to life with or without the possibility of parole. His lawyer, John Browne, told AFP he hoped his client would be released from jail after serving 10 years in prison. Continue reading