Washington: A US soldier, who had been accused of killing 16 Afghan villagers in a shooting rampage, could face the death penalty if he is found guilty of murder.
Staff Sgt Robert Bales will face a court martial on murder and assault charges for a March attack on two villages in southern Afghanistan.
Bales faces 16 counts of murder and six counts of attempted murder, as well as charges of assault and using drugs and alcohol while deployed.
According to the BBC, seventeen victims of the shooting rampage were women or children, and most of them were shot in the head.
Prosecutors have said that Bales left his base in Kandahar province, in southern Afghanistan in the early hours of 11 March.
Military prosecutor Maj Rob Steele said during a court hearing that Bales was conscious of his actions.
Sgt Bales is the only known suspect in the killings, despite repeated Afghan assertions that more than one American was involved, the report said.