Robert Bales Killed 16 Afghans for “No Good Reason”

Robert Bales

Staff Sgt. Robert Bales has pled guilty to killing 16 Afghan civilians but can’t for the life of him figure out why he did it.

Robert Bales admitted for the first time in military court on Wednesday that he deliberately killed 16 Afghan civilians in March 2012, most of them women and children. He told the court how he shot some victims, shot and burned others, and did so with complete awareness that he was acting on his own, without any orders from other officers. Bales, who was at the time on his fourth overseas deployment, said he did not remember setting a compound on fire, but did not dispute it either.

But he couldn’t give an explanation as to why he opened fire on two family compounds.

“I’ve asked that question a million times since then, and there’s not a good reason in the world for why I did the horrible things I did,” he said.

One clue might be his illegal use of steroids. Sgt. Bales admitted to taking the drugs to “huge and jacked”. When asked by the judge if the steroids had any other effects, Bales said, “Sir, it definitely increased my irritability and anger.” Yikes.

Another possibility? Alcohol. Fellow soldiers told the court that they had been drinking together earlier that night (against regulations!) and that Sgt. Bales had later walked back into the camp, wearing a cape, his clothes spotted with blood. I think the cape is the most troubling part…

Robert Bales pleaded guilty to all charges but one in order to avoid the death penalty, but he still faces a sentencing trial, scheduled for August, which will decide if his life sentence includes possibility of parole. If so, he could potentially be walking around as  a ‘veteran’ in 10 years.

The fact that Bales is not getting the death penalty certainly isn’t improving US-Afghan relations and definitely isn’t sitting well with residents of the Afghan village where the massacre happened.

The villagers in Kandahar province argue that he has been treated far too leniently and should be hanged. Villager Samiullah, whose mother, uncle and cousin were killed by Bales, said the life sentence meant that justice had not been done. Another villager, Haji Baqi, whose brother was killed by Bales, said: “We want him to be hanged. The international community should not ignore our grief!”

Via: The New York Times

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