Skooter reporting 03/23/12
Staff Sgt. Robert Bales, a US soldier said to have killed Afghan civilians will be charged with 17 counts of murder, Pentagon officials have told the BBC.
On March 11, Bales said to have massacred women and children in a village in Kandahar province. Sgt Bales, 38, was later flown to a military prison in the US after being transported from Afghanistan to Kuwait. If convicted, the soldier could face the death penalty.
A Pentagon official told the BBC that Sgt Bales would also be charged with six counts of assault and attempted murder. Despite Afghan insistence that there were more than one American was involved in the attack, Sgt. Bales is the only suspect in the killings.
At the military detention center in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, Bales is being held in solitary confinement.
Sgt. Bales reportedly was drunk on the night of the massacre and can recall only “very little” of the incident, his lawyer John Henry Brown said. Brown also claimed that there was no “forensic evidence” against his client and “no confession.”
The case has damaged US relations with Kabul and sparked the calls for NATO to expedite its planned withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan.
Afghan demanded for swift and decisive justice but Sgt Bales' trial could take years. Meanwhile the Taliban cancelled peace talks in the wake of the deadly rampage.