Conflict & Justice

Robert Bales' preliminary hearing into Afghan massacre ends (VIDEO)


An Afghan delegation walks with locals after a memorial ceremony in Alokozai village in Kandahar province on March 13, 2012, two days after at least 16 innocent Afghan civilians were shot and killed by at least one US soldier.



US Army prosecutors today said Staff Sgt. Robert Bales, the man accused of killing 16 Afghanis during a nighttime massacre on March 11, deserves a court-martial with the possibility of a death sentence.

Closing statements in the preliminary hearing ended today at Joint Base Lewis-McChord south of Seattle.

“Terrible, terrible things happened,” prosecutor Maj. Rob Stelle told the investigating officer, according to The Associated Press. “That is clear.”

In his defense, Bales’ attorneys pointed to testimony that said he was using steroids, sleeping pills and had been drinking the night of the massacre.

There were also reports of two men shooting in two Afghan villages.

“There are a number of questions that have not been answered so far in this investigation,” Emma Scanlan said, the AP reported.

More from GlobalPost: Prosecutors open Bales’ hearing saying they will ask for death penalty

Bales faces 16 counts of premeditated murder, six counts of attempted murder, assault charges and possession of steroids and alcohol while on duty.

His sister-in-law read a statement after the trial, and suggested the truth didn’t come out during the hearing. Bales’ wife, Kari, didn’t speak to reporters.

“We all want very much to know how, why and what happened,” Stephanie Tandberg said, KOMO News reported. “The article 32 hearing is now over and we still don’t know.”

According to prosecutors, Bales twice slipped undetected from his base in Afghanistan to carry out the killings in two villages. Of the 16 people killed, nine of them were children.

He may have been drinking that night and suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. Earlier testimony included soldiers saying Bales, 39 and decorated, asked someone to take care of his kids and that he said he thought he was doing the right thing, AP reported.

The investigating officer said he hopes to have a recommendation by the end of this week.

From there, the case goes to brigade command.

More from GlobalPost: Afghans accuse Bales of massacre in harrowing testimony