Afghans furious as US 'massacre soldier' escapes death sentence

07.06.2013 06:07

KANDAHAR -- Survivors and victims'
relatives on Thursday voiced fury
that the US soldier who massacred
16 Afghan villagers last year would
escape the death penalty after
pleading guilty.
Sergeant Robert Bales admitted 16
counts of murder in a packed
courtroom in Washington state on
Wednesday over the killings in
March 2012 that caused outrage in
Afghanistan and plunged US-Afghan
ties to a new low.
Military Judge Colonel Jeffery
Nance accepted the guilty pleas,
and ruled that Bales, 39, would
face a maximum of life behind bars
without eligibility for parole.
"All I want is to see this guy
executed. We don't want anything
else," said Samiullah, who lost his
mother in the massacre that also
left his daughter Zardana and his
son Rafiullah wounded.
Zardana, now about 12, has a
paralyzed arm and leg despite four
months of medical treatment in the
US.
"I went home and found my
mother dead lying on the floor of
the room in her blood," Samiullah
told AFP. "My daughter Zardana
was hit in the arm and leg. She was
lying in her blood too, my son
also. Nothing else will satisfy us
but the execution of this man. He
has shot my children, killed my
mother and we want him to be
executed."
Haji Naeem, another villager from
the Panjwai district of Kandahar
province where Bales ran amok,
was wounded along with his young
son and two of his daughters.
"See what they have done to me,"
he told AFP. "I can't move my arm.
The Americans will do what they
want. Only his execution will heal
our pains. We want him to be
executed, and executed in
Afghanistan."
But Abdul Baqi, Naeem's nephew,
acknowledged: "What we want will
not happen. They should execute
him, not jail him."
Bales' lawyer John Browne said he
hoped his client, who will be
sentenced in August, could be out
of jail after 10 years.
In court at Joint Base Lewis-
McChord south of Seattle, Bales
said he had no explanation for why
he opened fire on the villagers
using an M4 rifle and a 9mm
pistol.
Seventeen of the 22 victims were
women or children and almost all
were shot in the head.
"I formed the intent to kill and
then did kill by shooting with a
firearm and burning," he said,
repeating the phrase for each of
the 16 murder counts against him.
Asked why he had killed the
villagers, he said: "Sir, as far as
why, I've asked that question a
million times since then. There's
not a good reason in this world for
why I did the horrible things I
did."