News / USA

US Soldier Given Life Without Parole for Afghan Killings

A U.S. soldier looks on as Afghan villagers, some of whom testified earlier in the week, speak through an interpreter with reporters, following a sentencing hearing for Staff Sgt. Robert Bales at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington, Aug. 23, 2013.
A U.S. soldier looks on as Afghan villagers, some of whom testified earlier in the week, speak through an interpreter with reporters, following a sentencing hearing for Staff Sgt. Robert Bales at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington, Aug. 23, 2013.
Mike O'Sullivan
An American soldier convicted of killing 16 civilians in Afghanistan has been sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. Staff Sergeant Robert Bales had admitted to the killings in a plea bargain that spared him the death penalty.

Bales listened to testimony this week from some of the Afghan survivors and family members of victims, as military prosecutors described the cold-blooded killings in two Afghan villages in March, 2012. Most of his victims were women and children, including 11 members of one family. Haji Muhammad Wazir lost six of his seven children and his wife and mother. He and eight other men and boys were flown to
Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington State for the sentencing hearing.

Prosecutors said that Bales, armed with an assault rifle and pistol, acted alone and that the murders were premeditated. Defense lawyers have said Bales suffered from post-traumatic stress syndrome from the pressures of four deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan, and that he was dependent on alcohol and drugs. His attorneys did not call on mental health experts, however, as they had planned, and civilian lawyer John Henry Browne told reporters that a battle of experts would not help their client’s case.

Thursday, Bales apologized for the killings to the families of the victims and his fellow soldiers, and he called the murders an act of cowardice. It was his first public apology. Army officials say the Afghans who testified at the hearing declined to attend that day. A jury of six military service members, who were empaneled this week to determine the sentence, deliberated for less than two hours before announcing a decision, life in prison without parole.
 
Bales, who is a Washington State resident, is 40 years old and the father of two children. Friends and former associates who appeared as character witnesses said they were stunned to learn of the charges.

Many Afghans have expressed anger that Bales was spared the death penalty and that he was tried in the United States and not Afghanistan. He was prosecuted under the U.S. Uniform Code of Military Justice.

You May Like

Video Experts Warn World Losing Ebola Fight

Doctors Without Borders says world is losing battle against Ebola, unless wealthy nations dispatch specialized biological disaster response teams More

Video Experts: Rise of Islamic State Significant Development in Jihadism

Many analysts contend the group - which grew out of al-Qaida in Iraq - has been rebuilding for years More

US-Based Hong Kongers Pledge Support for Pro-Democracy Activists

Democracy advocates call on Chinese living abroad to join them in opposing new election rules for their home territory More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Larger Than Life Chinese Lanterns Make Southern California Appearancei
X
Elizabeth Lee
September 02, 2014 8:57 PM
Chinese lanterns with a long history are lighting up in 21st century style at the Los Angeles County Fair in southern California. Visitors can see traditional lanterns that hang, but also lanterns in the shape of animals, iconic landmarks and many other objects, all created by artisans from a place in China known for its lanterns. Elizabeth Lee has the details from the fair in the city of Pomona.
Video

Video Larger Than Life Chinese Lanterns Make Southern California Appearance

Chinese lanterns with a long history are lighting up in 21st century style at the Los Angeles County Fair in southern California. Visitors can see traditional lanterns that hang, but also lanterns in the shape of animals, iconic landmarks and many other objects, all created by artisans from a place in China known for its lanterns. Elizabeth Lee has the details from the fair in the city of Pomona.
Video

Video Experts See Rise of ISIS as Significant Development

The Islamic State’s rise seems sudden. It caught the U.S. by surprise this summer when it captured large portions of northern Iraq and spread its wings in neighboring Syria. But many analysts contend that the group - which grew out of al-Qaida in Iraq - has been rebuilding for years. VOA's Jela de Franceschi takes a closer look at the rise of ISIS and its implications for the Middle East and beyond.
Video

Video Israel Concerned Over Syrian Rebels in Golan

Israeli officials are following with concern the recent fighting between Syrian rebels and government forces near the contested Golan Heights. Forty-four U.N. peacekeepers from Fiji have been seized by Syrian Islamist rebels and the clashes occasionally have spilled into Israel. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video Ukraine Schools Resume Classes, Donate to Government Forces

A new school year has started in Ukraine but thousands of children in the war-torn east are unable to attend because of ongoing clashes with pro-Russia rebels. In Ukraine's capital, patriotic education has become the norm along with donations to support injured security forces fighting to take back rebel-held areas. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video US Detainees Want Negotiators for Freedom in North Korea

The three U.S. detainees held in North Korea were permitted to speak with foreign media Monday. The government of Kim Jong Un restricted the topics of the questions, and the interviews in Pyongyang were limited to five minutes. Each of the men asked Washington to send a representative to Pyongyang to secure his release. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti has our story.
Video

Video Turkmen From Amerli Describe Survival of IS Siege

Over the past few weeks, hundreds of Shi'ite Turkmen have fled the town of Amerli seeking refuge in the northern city of Kirkuk. Despite recent military gains after U.S. airstrikes that were coordinated with Iraqi and Kurdish forces, the situation remains dire for Amerli’s residents. Sebastian Meyer went to Kirkuk for VOA to speak to those who managed to escape.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered at the Union League Club in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.

AppleAndroid