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Entries in Robert Bales (9)

Friday
Jan182013

Psychiatric Evaluation Ordered for Soldier in Afghan Civilian Murder Spree

US Army(SEATTLE) -- The likelihood that an Army staff sergeant will go on trial for murdering Afghan civilians this year is in doubt now that Robert Bales has been ordered to undergo an official sanity review.

Bales, who is being held at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Seattle, can't have his lawyers present a mental health defense until he's had the psychiatric evaluation.

This will certainly push back any chance of his trial starting sometime in 2013 as his lawyers already have to pore over thousands of documents that detail the Army's charges that Bales killed 16 civilians after allegedly sneaking off his base in Afghanistan twice in the same night last March.

Bales' mental health review is expected to be conducted by health experts not chosen by either the prosecution or defense so as to produce a neutral result.

It had already been ascertained that the sergeant's mental health at the time of the alleged shooting would be a central part of the defense's argument since it was previously reported that Bales may have suffered from a traumatic head injury.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Monday
Nov052012

Prosecution Cites Revenge as Motive for Afghan Massacre

United States Army

(TACOMA, Wash.) -- According to Army prosecutors, Staff Sergeant Robert Bales has admitted multiple times being behind a shooting rampage in Afghanistan this past March that killed 16 Afghan civilians.

They say Bales has stated that he was acting out of revenge for previous attacks and chillingly admitted he thought he was "doing the right thing."

Bales is accused of having gone on a shooting rampage on the night of March 11 in Afghanistan's Kandahar Province. He is alleged to have snuck out of his remote outpost in the middle of the night and gone on a shooting spree at two nearby villages, where he killed 16 and injured six.

Evidence is being presented at an Article 32 hearing for Bales at Joint Base Lewis-McChord outside of Tacoma, Wash. The military's equivalent of a civilian grand jury, at the hearing prosecutors will present evidence before a presiding officer who will determine if Bales' case should go to a court-martial.

Sporting a shaved head, Bales sat quietly in court with a stoic demeanor as he heard prosecutors recount new details of the shooting spree he is alleged to have committed.

In his opening arguments Army prosecutor Lt. Colonel Joseph Morse said Bales had returned to the camp with his weapons and entire uniform covered in blood, some of which was later matched to at least one of the shooting victims.

Morse said that when he returned to his base Bales' demeanor seemed "completely normal" and when told to disarm at gunpoint, he responded, "Are you F-in' kidding me?!"

The prosecutor said Bales has made multiple admissions to the shootings "that clearly show, with chilling premeditation...Staff Sgt. Bales murdered these people." That included telling a fellow soldier, "Hey Mac, I just shot some people."

Bales allegedly stated that he "thought I was doing the right thing" and that he was apparently motivated by revenge for previous attacks to his unit.

Testifying Monday was Bales' colleague, Corporal Dave Godwin, who was granted immunity for his testimony. Godwin recounted how he and Bales had been drinking alcohol prior to the shooting rampage. American troops serving in Afghanistan are expressly forbidden from drinking alcohol while in the country.

Drinking Jack Daniels whiskey with soda, Godwin said they and another soldier "weren't drinking to get drunk." They had watched a portion of the movie Man on Fire, about a former CIA operative who goes on a revenge rampage.

Before the shooting rampage, Bales allegedly told his fellow soldiers that he had a "disgruntled family at home" and that he did not care "whether he gets killed or not."

When they went sleep at 11 p.m. Godwin said there was nothing odd about Bales' behavior. He recalled being awoken at 12:30 a.m. by loud banging on the door from fellow soldiers who said Bales had gone missing. After a quick search did not turn up Bales, a fellow soldier remembered Bales having said he was going to the village, but thought he was joking.

When Bales returned to the outpost Godwin was one of the soldiers who ordered him to put down his weapons that included an M-4 rifle, a grenade launcher and a 40-millimeter grenade belt.

He recalled Bales yelling, "Did you rat me out, did you rat me out?!"

Godwin said in addition to the T-shirt and camouflaged pants Bales was wearing, he had a blue sheet tied like a cape around his neck.

According to Godwin, "he said something like I thought 'I was doing the right thing' as we were taking his stuff away and he had his hands on his head." He added Bales seemed "very coherent" and looked like "he got caught with his hand in the cookie jar."

The Article 32 hearing is expected to last two weeks and some survivors of the attack will testify via a live satellite feed from Afghanistan.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Jun012012

American Soldier Suspected in Afghan Massacre Gets New Charges 

US Army(FORT LEAVENWORTH, Kan.) -- Army prosecutors have dropped one of the 17 murder charges against Staff Sgt. Robert Bales for his alleged shooting rampage against Afghan civilians this past March.

Prosecutors also have added charges that he used alcohol and steroids during his deployment to Afghanistan.  

During the pre-dawn hours of March 11, Bales is alleged to have snuck out of his remote combat outpost on two occasions to shoot Afghans in two villages close to his base in western Kandahar province.   

Afghan and U.S. officials said at the time that 16 non-combatants were killed in the shooting rampage. However, when the criminal charges were filed, they alleged Bales was responsible for 17 counts of murder.  Defense officials at the time said the criminal investigation had turned up evidence of a 17th victim.    

An Army statement announcing the amended charges said the reduction in the number of murder charges “conform to developments in the ongoing investigation surrounding Staff Sgt. Bales’ alleged crimes on March 11, 2012.”

An Army official said further investigation and review of the incident with Afghan authorities and the families of victims has determined there were 16 murder victims.

Bales is also charged with a single count of “wrongfully consuming alcoholic beverages within the country of Afghanistan,” which matches reporting by ABC News and other outlets that Bales had used alcohol prior to the shooting incident.

In addition to the murder charges, Bales also faces six charges of attempted murder and a new seventh charge of assault.  There are also “two specifications of wrongfully possessing and using a Schedule III controlled substance [steroids].”  The charge sheets identify the steroid as stanozolol.

Bales is currently being detained at a military prison at Fort Leavenworth, Kan.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Sunday
Mar252012

Slain Afghan Villagers' Families Paid $50,000 in Compensation

Jangir/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- In any war, it's one of the hardest questions to ask.

Ten years into the Afghanistan mission, as casualties mount with no real clarity about what victory would look like -- it's a question now more important than ever.

In a country filled with death, what's the price of a single life?

Two weeks ago, up to 17 Afghan villagers were methodically gunned down in the middle of the night in their Panjwai district village. Most were shot with a single, targeted bullet to the head. Some of the dead, including nine children and three women, were then brought to a room, their clothes torn, and their still-warm bodies set afire.

The U.S. military has charged 38-year-old Staff Sgt. Robert Bales with 17 counts of premeditated murder. If convicted, he could face demotion in rank, dishonorable discharge, loss of salary, and possibly, the death penalty.

In the days that followed the attack, there was a firestorm of questions. We needed to know: Who was the shooter? What could have prompted such a heinous act? Why weren't there more safeguards in place?

Among the questions no one bothered -- or dared -- to ask is the one whose answer is the most troubling. What price could be put on those lost lives?

And today, it seems we have an answer.

Fifty thousand dollars.

Afghan officials tell ABC News that's the price paid by the U.S. military for each victim of the Panjwaii massacre. The transaction reportedly took place on Saturday at the Kandahar governor's office, in the presence of U.S. and Afghan officials, along with tribal elders from the affected villages.

In a statement to ABC News, U.S. Lt. Commander Brian Badura -- as per routine military policy -- would neither confirm nor deny the payment, saying only that individual nations "may participate in some form of restitution consistent with the cultural norms of Afghanistan."

"As the settlement of claims is in most cases a sensitive topic for those who have suffered loss, it is usually a matter of agreement that the terms of the settlement remain confidential," he said.

If the Afghan officials' statements are true, this wouldn't be the first time the United States has offered compensation to victims of U.S. actions in Afghanistan. Two years ago, after a botched night raid by NATO forces led to the death of five Afghan civilians, including at least two pregnant women, a U.S. commander reportedly offered the victims' families $30,000 in compensation.

Under the Foreign Claims Act, the U.S. military is not legally obligated to offer compensation to civilians who are killed or injured during a time of war. Still, the United States has often paid what are known as "combat damages" in regions like Afghanistan, where compensation is the cultural norm.

The human rights group CIVIC analyzed payments made by the United States to Afghan civilians from 2006 to 2010. Their analysis included interviews with U.S. military personnel, as well as nearly 13,000 pages of claims documented released by the Department of Defense, in 2007 and 2009.

Their results reveal what they consider standard amounts the US doles out per claim. They include: $2,000 for a death, $400 for a serious injury, and $200 for a non-serious injury.

Other NATO members have their own payment formulas. The United Kingdom, for example, once gave out just $210 in compensation for an accidental death, while the Germans once gave $20,000 -- plus a new car -- after three civilians were killed at a checkpoint in 2009.

According to CIVIC, claims of up to $2,500 have to be approved by a lieutenant colonel, up to $5,000 by a colonel, and up to $10,000 by a deputy commanding general. Any claims above that are rare, and believed to require authorization from the highest military authorities.

When the Panjwaii victims met with U.S. officials, they were reportedly told the compensation had been authorized by President Obama himself.

For some, the goal behind these payments is to acknowledge that in the theater of war, mistakes happen, and innocent families need help to recover from the sudden loss of income and security that comes with losing a loved one.

From a military standpoint, some say there's another goal: It's strategic.

When civilians are killed, family members often respond with anger and rage. According to CIVIC and US officials, the likelihood that they will turn to Taliban insurgents for support increases.

"Apologizing and providing assistance is a way of saying this really was an accident," said one official who asked not to be named. "We're sorry, and we want to help you."

In the case of the Panjwaii compensation, there's a question of whether the money will be enough to make amends. Internally, Afghans have a long tradition of exchanging "blood money" between rival clans and tribes, but rarely have foreigners been involved in the process.

Family members of the slain Panjwaii victims have said, repeatedly, that no amount of compensation would be sufficient, that only seeing the accused punished, in Afghanistan, in a public trial would bring them any comfort.

In other words, the villagers didn't want blood money. They wanted blood.

“The villagers aren't like animals that you can buy," a senior Afghan official told ABC News when asked about the compensation. "Yes, it's a lot of money. But their children are not coming back.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Sunday
Mar252012

Sgt. Robert Bales Returned to Military Base in Between Shooting Spree

US Army(NEW YORK) -- Staff Sgt. Robert Bales, the American soldier accused of slaughtering 17 Afghan civilians, stopped at his military base between killings, a U.S. official told ABC News.

The official says it was Bales' second departure from Camp Bellambay that led to a search party being organized to look for Bales after he was not found present for a muster organized to see if anyone was missing from the base.

Bales was detained after he returned on his own accord to the base after the attack on the second village. U.S. officials say there is aerial surveillance video taken by a security blimp located over the base that shows Bales in a prone position making his way back to the base after the second attack. His detention is not shown on the video.

The U.S. official confirmed that investigators believe that Bales returned to the base after the attack on the first village, but does not believe that he was detected leaving the base the first time.

"We know he made two trips," said the U.S. official, who would not provide details as to how investigators know that Bales returned to the base in between the attacks, though he said there is no video showing Bales returning to the base the first time.

The official did not know Bales' motivation in returning to the base the first time.

Bales was officially charged Friday with 17 counts of murder, six counts of attempted murder and six counts of aggravated assault, military officials said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Mar232012

Sgt. Robert Bales Officially Charged for Afghan Massacre

US Army(FORT LEAVENWORTH, Texas) -- Staff sergeant Robert Bales, the American soldier accused of murdering more than a dozen Afghan civilians, has been officially charged with 17 counts of murder among other charges, military officials said.

The 38-year-old stands accused of going out from his base in Kandahar, Afghanistan, in the middle of the night Sunday and walking to nearby villages where he broke into homes and opened fire on the families inside. Nine of the victims killed were children. In addition to the murder charges, Bales was charged with six counts of attempted murder and six counts of assault.

Military officials had previously reported that 16 civilians were killed in the Sunday attack, implying there was either an initial miscount of the dead or one of the several Afghan civilians who were wounded has died.

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Bales, who has a home in Washington State where his wife and children live, is now being held at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., and though charges in his case have been announced by U.S. Forces in Afghanistan, U.S. officials say his military court proceedings will be held in the United States.

If convicted, the maximum possible punishment Bales could receive under the Uniform Code of Military Justice is dishonorable discharge from the Armed Forces, reduction to the lowest enlisted grade, total forfeiture of pay and allowances, and death (with a mandatory minimum sentence of imprisonment for life with eligibility for parole), according to a military statement.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Mar232012

Murder Charges Against Alleged Kandahar Shooter Expected Friday

US Army(FORT LEAVENWORTH, Kan.) -- Murder charges against Army Staff Sgt. Robert Bales are expected to be filed Friday for his alleged shooting rampage almost two weeks ago that resulted in the deaths of 17 Afghan civilians.

A U.S. official confirms that Bales will be charged with 17 counts of murder, six counts of attempted murder, and six counts of aggravated assault, in addition to other violations of the U.S. Code of Military Justice.  All of the charges are related to the 17 deaths that allegedly resulted from Bales’ rampage.

The number of Afghans killed in the incident has been reported widely as 16, but criminal charges are expected to include 17 counts of murder.  U.S. officials said the updated number of casualties reflected either the death of one of the civilians initially wounded in the rampage, or new information gathered by Army investigators on the ground in Afghanistan.

Bales is accused of sneaking out of his remote combat outpost in the middle of the night and terrorizing two nearby villages, with Afghan civilians his apparent targets. Nine of the victims killed were children.

Bales, 38, was detained by fellow soldiers after he returned to his outpost.

John Henry Browne, Bales’ civilian attorney, said that during his initial meeting with his client, Bales did not have any recollection of the March 11 rampage.

Bales, who has a home in Washington state where his wife and children live, is now being held at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., and though charges in his case will be announced by U.S. Forces in Afghanistan, U.S. officials say his court proceedings will be held in the United States.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Mar192012

Afghan Massacre Suspect Had Criminal Record, Wanted Promotion

Staff Sgt Robert Bales (L) and another soldier at a training center in Fort Irwin, CA in 2011. United States Army(FORT LEAVENWORTH, Kan.) -- Army Staff Sgt. Robert Bales, named as the suspect who allegedly went on a rampage, killing 16 Afghan civilians last week, is remembered by those who know him as a devoted husband, father and friend, but news of a criminal record has surfaced and his wife's blog posts reveal a man frustrated with not being promoted.

Between the 38-year-old's deployments, he had scattered trouble at home, including a criminal record that includes a misdemeanor arrest for assaulting a girlfriend in 2002 that led to 20 hours of court-ordered anger management, and a report of a drunk driving arrest in 2005 for which he wasn't charged.

His record also includes a hit-and-run in 2008.  According to the Tacoma News Tribune, he was given a 12-month suspended sentence and slapped with a $250 fine.

A blog by Bales' wife Karilyn, a public relations and marketing manager, reveals that Bales, who served three tours in Iraq and was reluctant to be deployed to Afghanistan, was passed over last year in his bid to become an E-7, sergeant first class.

"Bob didn't get a promotion and is very disappointed, after all the sacrifices he has made for his love of country. But I am also relieved. We can finally move on to the next phase of our lives," she wrote.

Karilyn had written that their family was hoping he would be assigned to Germany, Italy or Hawaii or perhaps become a sniper instructor in Georgia.  Instead, Bales was sent to Afghanistan where it's believed he snuck away from his outpost and methodically killed 16 Afghans, including nine children, before attempting to get back to his base.

The incident has further strained relations between Washington and Kabul, with many government officials furious that Bales was not left in Afghanistan to face a public trial.  He was brought to Kuwait and then flown to the U.S. last Friday, where he is in solitary confinement at Fort Leavenworth in Kansas. 

Bales' defense team will meet with him on Monday to go over his military, medical and personnel records.  He has not yet been charged and could face the death penalty if found guilty. 

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Saturday
Mar172012

Staff Sgt. Robert Bales Being Kept Away From Other Prisoners at Fort Leavenworth

Staff Sgt Robert Bales (L) and another soldier at a training center in Fort Irwin, CA in 2011. United States Army(FORT LEAVENWORTH, Kan.) -- Staff Sgt. Robert Bales remains locked up on Saturday in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, where he is being housed in a private cell away from other inmates.

Charges are expected soon against Bales, who allegedly went on a killing spree that ended the lives of 16 Afghan civilians. Bales was flown out of Afghanistan and arrived at the Army prison Friday night.

Bales, 38, and the father of two, is accused of breaking into several Afghan homes in the middle of the night last Sunday and killing 16 civilians, mostly women and children. He could face the death penalty if found guilty.

Pentagon officials said that Bales' being brought back to the U.S. does not necessarily mean that his military court proceedings will be held in the U.S., holding out the possibility that they could be held in Afghanistan. The Afghan government is demanding that Bales be tried in Afghanistan.

Details of Bales' military record have also emerged and they depict a soldier who has seen intense combat and lost part of a foot.

Bales, who enlisted shortly after the 9/11 terror attacks, was first deployed in November 2003 when his unit spent a year in Mosul, Iraq.

In June 2006 he and his unit were sent back to Iraq and their year-long deployment was given a three month extension until September 2007. During that time, he saw duty in Mosul in the north, Bagdad when the city was pressed by militants, and then to Baquba where his unit took major casualties.

His final Iraq deployment was from September 2009 to September 2010 in Diyala province, which was also a hotbed of insurgent activity.

In December 2011, he was ordered to Afghanistan.

Bales' alleged murderous rage is in stark contrast to what he said after a fierce battle in Zarqa, Iraq, in 2007.

"I've never been more proud to be a part of this unit than that day for the simple fact that we discriminated between the bad guys and the noncombatants and then afterward we ended up helping the people that three or four hours before were trying to kill us," he told Fort Lewis' Northwest Guardian.

"I think that's the real difference between being an American as opposed to being a bad guy, someone who puts his family in harm's way like that," Bales said at the time.

Bales reportedly spent his entire 11-year career at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington state and lived not too far from the base. Originally from the Midwest, he was deployed with the Second Battalion, 3rd Infantry Regiment of the 3rd Stryker Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division in December.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio







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