Conflict & Justice

Staff Sgt. Robert Bales to be charged as early as Saturday


A man identified as Robert Bales appears in this Defense Department photograph published in High Desert Warrior, a publication at the National Training Center and Fort Irwin in California.

Staff Sgt. Robert Bales, the US soldier who allegedly killed 16 Afghan civilians in Kandahar province last weekend, could be charged as early as Saturday, the Daily Beast reported

38-year-old Bales is currently being held in a private cell in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, where he was flown late Friday night, ABC News reported

Bales has still not been formally charged, CNN reported, but the military has made a determination of probable cause that allows him to be detained. The military has seven days to bring Bales before a magistrate and 120 days to take him to trial, Greg Rinckey, a former judge advocate, told CNN. 

The military had been withholding the suspect’s identity since he surrendered to authorities Sunday morning, but officials confirmed his name after news organizations reported it Friday evening, the Washington Post reported

"He was a great noncommissioned officer," one of Bales' former commanders told The Seattle Times on Friday. "When I found out who the name was, I nearly fell off my chair and I had a good cry."

More from GlobalPost: Robert Bales is identified as the alleged Afghanistan shooter

An official said that Bales had suffered a mild traumatic brain injury (TBI) from hitting his head on the hatch of a vehicle or in a car accident, ABC News reported. He went through advanced TBI treatment at Fort Lewis and was deemed to be fine.

When Bales returned from his last deployment in Iraq, he had difficulty reintegrating, which caused problems with his marriage, according to ABC News. He was on his fourth deployment at the time of the alledged massacre. 

In some reports, government officials have said Bales may have been drinking on the night of the shootings and that he was disturbed by his marital issues, according to the Post. John Henry Browne, Bales' high-profile attorney, called the reports “very offensive" and said that Bales and his wife had “a very strong marriage," according to the Post. 

Pentagon officials said that Bales' extradition to the US does not necessarily mean that his court proceedings will be held in the States, suggesting that the trial could possibly be held in Afghanistan, which the Afghan government has demanded, ABC News reported. 

The massacre has caused significant backlash in Afghanistan, straining the already frayed relations between the US and the Afghan government. 

More from GlobalPost: US tries to soothe Afghanistan anger over killings

Bales, who is from Lake Tapps, Washington, has been described as a "family man," and his neighbors, friends and fellow soldiers have expressed disbelief and sorrow at the accusations brought against him, the Seattle Times reported. 

“Bales is still, hands down, one of the best soldiers I ever worked with,” Army Capt. Chris Alexander, 28, who was Bales’s platoon leader during a deployment in Iraq, told the Washington Post. “There has to be very severe [post-traumatic stress disorder] involved in this. I just don’t want him seen as some psychopath, because he is not.”

Bales was deployed to Afghanistan from Joint Base Lewis-McChord near Tacoma, Washington, in January, according to military officials, CNN reported. He was part of the 3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division. 

He joined the Army two months after September 11th's terrorist attacks and was assigned to Lewis-McChord in September 2002, according to a summary released by the Army, CNN reported. Bales' multiple honors were listed, including three Army "good conduct" medals.