Sgt. Robert Bales to be charged with 17 counts of murder over Afghan massacre
Staff Sgt. Robert Bales suspected of killing civilians in Afghanistan will be charged with 17 counts of murder, according to US officials.
Robert Bales, 38, is accused of attacking the villagers in their homes in Kandahar province on 11 March. Most victims were women and children.
He was later moved to a military prison in the US after being transported from Afghanistan to Kuwait.
Robert Bales could face the death penalty if convicted.
He would also be charged with six counts of assault and attempted murder, a US official said.
The charges are to be read to the soldier at the military prison at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, later on Friday, according to the Associated Press news agency.
The Taliban said on Friday that it had no faith in any trial of Robert Bales.
“This was a planned activity and we will certainly take revenge on all American forces in Afghanistan and don’t trust such trials,” Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told Reuters news agency by telephone.
Sgt. Robert Bales is the only known suspect in the killings – despite repeated Afghan assertions that more than one American was involved.
He is being held in solitary confinement at Fort Leavenworth.
Robert Bales’ lawyer, John Henry Browne, who has played down reports that his client was drunk on the night of the killings, said earlier this week the soldier remembers “very little” of the incident.
John Henry Brown said there were “no forensic evidence” against him and “no confession”.
He said Sgt. Robert Bales had received body and brain injuries while serving in Iraq and was unhappy about going for another tour of duty. He had already completed three tours in Iraq.
John Henry Brown also said his client – whom he described as “a decorated soldier” with an exemplary record before the shooting – had witnessed his friend’s leg blown off the day before the killings.
The case has undermined US relations with Kabul and led to calls for NATO to speed up its planned withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan.
Sgt. Robert Bales’ trial could take years, contrasting with Afghan demands for swift and decisive justice.
The Taliban called off peace talks in the wake of the deadly rampage.
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