Bales faces angry Afghans as sentencing continues

Last Updated: Thursday, August 22, 2013 - 13:47

Joint Base Lewis-Mcchord: The US soldier who killed 16 Afghan civilians in a solo attack on two villages last year faced more of the victims` relatives, while his brother portrayed him as a patriotic American and loving father.
Mullah Khamal Adin took the witness stand against Robert Bales, who pleaded guilty in June in a deal to avoid the death penalty.

Adin, a villager whose cousin lost 11 relatives in the attack, is one of nine Afghans from Kandahar Province flown to the US for the hearing. He described arriving at his cousin`s home and finding a pile of burning bodies, including young children, inside. Bales acknowledged setting the bodies alight with a kerosene lantern.

The March 11, 2012 massacre prompted such angry protests that the US temporarily halted combat operations in Afghanistan. A former brigade commander in Afghanistan, Todd Wood, said Wednesday that allowed Taliban personnel to openly carry weapons and lay roadside bombs.

Clearing those bombs eventually set the US mission there back about three weeks.

During his plea hearing in June, Bales couldn`t explain to a judge why he committed the killings. "There`s not a good reason in this world for why I did the horrible things I did," he said.

One of Bale`s lawyers, John Henry Browne, said after court Wednesday that his client will speak to the jury at the end of the case, and he will offer an apology for his crimes.

Prosecutors have offered the most detailed single account yet of the attack, describing how Bales executed a young girl who was screaming for him to stop beating her father, how he fired into rooms full of children and how he killed 11 members of a single family, many of them still asleep on their blankets.

Haji Wazir Mohammad, who received USD 550,000 in compensation from the US government, told the jury that the attacks destroyed what had been a happy life.

"I`ve gone through very hard times," he added. "If anybody speaks to me about the incident ... I feel the same, like it`s happening right now."

Wazir and a cousin, Khamal Adin, didn`t get to say everything they wanted to in court. Each asked for permission to speak after the prosecutors` questions were finished, but the judge said it wasn`t allowed.

Bales` attorneys, who have said the soldier suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder, didn`t cross-examine any of the Afghan witnesses.

Two military doctors testified Wednesday, describing the treatment of Bales` victims, including a young girl who had been shot in the head and spent three months undergoing surgeries and rehabilitation at a naval hospital in San Diego, relearning how to walk.

PTI




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