Friday, June 14, 2024

Afghan victims set to testify in shooting rampage hearing


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Washington: Two wounded survivors of a shooting rampage that killed 16 Afghan villagers are set to recount the experience at a US military hearing to decide if a decorated soldier accused of murder in the case will face a court martial.

Military prosecutors are seeking the death penalty for Army Staff Sergeant Robert Bales, accusing him of killing the villagers – mostly women and children – when he ventured out of his remote camp on two revenge-fueled forays over a five-hour period in March.

The survivors, along with four relatives of those killed in the rampage, will appear via video-link from Kandahar Air Field to an overnight hearing at a US.

Army base in Washington state, marking the first time Afghan witnesses will testify under oath about what transpired that night.

The testimony could provide important clues about the nature of the attack, including whether Bales acted alone.

Some villagers told reporters shortly after the attacks that more than one U.S. soldier was involved, but there have been no sworn statements to that effect made publicly.

US prosecutors say that a coherent and lucid Bales left his base twice in the early hours of March 11, and murdered the 16 villagers alone and with ‘chilling premeditation.’

They have presented physical evidence to tie Bales to the crime scene, with a forensic investigator saying a sample of blood on Bales’ clothes matched a swab taken in one of the compounds where the shooting occurred..

The shootings in Afghanistan’s Kandahar province marked the worst case of civilian slaughter blamed on an individual U.S. soldier since the Vietnam War and damaged already strained U.S.-Afghan relations. (Reuters)


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