Afghan killings suspect remembers little: Lawyer



Fort Leavenworth: The Army staff sergeant accused of slaughtering 16 Afghan civilians in a nighttime shooting rampage has a sketchy memory of the night of the massacre, his lawyer said yesterday after meeting his client for the first time.

Lawyer John Henry Browne said Robert Bales remembers some details from before and after the killings, but very little or nothing of the time the military believes he went on a shooting spree through two Afghan villages.

"He has some memory of some things that happened that night. He has some memories of before the incident and he has some memories of after the incident. In between, very little," Browne told The Associated Press by telephone from the maximum security military prison at Fort Leavenworth, where Bales is being held.

Pressed on whether Bales can remember anything about the shooting, Browne said, "No," but added: "I haven't gotten that far with him yet."

In an earlier interview with CBS television, Browne said unequivocally that Bales can't remember the shootings.

Meanwhile, records show Bales owes USD 1.5 million from an arbitration ruling nearly a decade ago that found him guilty of securities fraud.

Bales, 38, has not been charged yet in the March 11 shootings, though charges could come this week.

The killings sparked protests in Afghanistan, endangered US-Afghan relations and threatened to upend American policy over the decade-old war.

Earlier yesterday, Browne met with his client behind bars for the first time to begin building a defense and said the soldier gave a powerfully moving account of what it is like to be on the ground in Afghanistan.

Browne said he and Bales, who is being held in an isolated cell at the military prison, met for more than three hours at Fort Leavenworth.

"What's going on on the ground in Afghanistan, you read about it. I read about it. But it's totally different when you hear about it from somebody who's been there," Browne told the AP. "It's just really emotional."

Browne, a Seattle attorney who defended serial killer Ted Bundy and a thief known as the "Barefoot Bandit," has said he has handled three or four military cases.

The defense team includes a military defense lawyer, Maj Thomas Hurley. The lawyers have said they plan to meet with Bales this week.

At their meeting, Browne said Bales clarified a story, provided initially by the soldier's family, about the timing of a roadside bomb that blew off the leg of one of Bales' friends.

It was two days before the shooting, not one, and Bales didn't see the explosion, just the aftermath, Browne said.

The details of the blast could not be immediately confirmed.

PTI