US soldier charged with 17 Panjwai murders
KABUL (PAN): An American soldier, based in Afghanistan, has been slapped with 17 charges of premeditated murders of Afghan civilians in the Panjwai district of southern Kandahar province early this month.
The US Forces-Afghanistan Public Affairs said the military had charged Staff Sergeant Robert Bales with premeditated murder of 17 Afghan civilians, assault and attempted to murder six others in Panjwai on March 11.
On the tragic day, the accused was alleged to have barged into several villagers’ homes near his military base, and opened fire -- killing 17 civilians. The deaths included nine children and eight adults.
The victims’ bodies were later torched by the soldier, who returned to his base after committing the crime. He is assigned to the 2d Battalion, 3d Infantry Regiment, headquartered at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington.
He is currently in pre-trial confinement at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas in the US. Under the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ), the maximum possible punishment for a premeditated murder conviction is a dishonorable discharge from the forces, demotion to the lowest enlisted grade and total forfeiture of pay and allowances.
And he could even face a death penalty (with a mandatory minimum sentence of imprisonment for life with eligibility for parole), added the statement.
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