US soldier to face death penalty in Afghan massacre case
The US Army said Wednesday it will seek the death penalty against a US soldier charged in the shooting spree that killed 16 Afghan civilians, DPA reported.
Staff Sergeant Robert Bales faces 16 murder charges and six attempted murder charges in the March shooting of 22 Afghan civilians.
Prosecutors refered Bales' case to a military court martial, but did not set a date for the trial to begin, said a statement released by Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington state.
Bales allegedly slipped away from his military base before dawn on March 11 and entered homes in a nearby village in the Panjwai district of Kandahar province in southern Afghanistan and shot the civilians, many of whom were sleeping. Nine children were among the dead, and 11 victims were from one family. Six other people were injured.
Afghan witnesses who testified by video link from Kandahar during a pre-trial hearing last month described a single US soldier barging into their homes and shooting civilians.
In order to issue the death penalty, the court martial must unanimously find Bales guilty.
No US soldier has been executed for a crime since 1961, according to the Death Penalty Information Center.