A military staff sergeant charged with killing 16 Afghan civilians during a drunken rage will learn more about the military prosecutor’s charges against him on Monday.
A preliminary hearing is being held at the Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington this week to determine whether Staff Sgt. Robert Bales will stand trial for the massacre. The hearing is expected to last two weeks.
In March, 16 Afghan villagers were killed in the shooting, and six other people were injured. The shooting rampage sparked outrage and protests in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Bales was seen leaving his military base alone the night of the murders. Bales allegedly told a fellow soldier that he had killed villagers in Afghanistan’s Kandahar province, but Bales’ attorney denies that his client made those statements.
Both sides will be able to present their own witnesses. Potential witnesses who are in Afghanistan will teleconference into the Washington courtroom during the hearing.
In Session legal experts say the prosecution has some difficulties to overcome with its case. In accordance with Islamic tradition, all of the victims were buried quickly, and investigators did not have an opportunity to do autopsies. However, there were pictures taken of the bodies.
Bales is charged with 16 counts of premeditated murder, six counts of attempted murder and seven counts of assault. In addition, he is charged with illicit use of alcohol and steroids. His attorney says that steroid use will play an important part in the defendant’s case.