WASHINGTON, August 23 (RIA Novosti) – A US military jury on Friday sentenced a soldier to life in prison without the possibility of parole for massacring 16 Afghan villagers last year, US media reported.
Army Staff Sgt. Robert Bales, 40, was serving his fourth combat deployment when he left his outpost in Kandahar province in the middle of the night March 11, 2012, opening fire in two villages. Most of the victims were women and children.
Bales pleaded guilty earlier this year in a deal to avoid the death penalty.
On Thursday, he took the witness stand in the courtroom at a military base in Washington State, apologizing for the attack and calling it an act of cowardice. Several survivors of the attack and family members of the victims traveled to the United States and testified this week, including Haji Mohammad Wazir, who lost six of seven children, his wife and mother.
Prosecutors arguing that Bales should not get parole, showed jurors photos of a young girl who was killed as she screamed and cried. After shooting some of his victims, Bales set their bodies on fire.
Bales’ defense attorneys suggested that post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury may have played a role in the massacre, and they urged jurors to consider his earlier military service and grant him a “sliver of light,” a sentence with the possibility of parole in 20 years.
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New ties between Russia and Japan would mark not only a breakthrough in their relations but also a significant shift in Northeast Asia’s political dynamic. Both are secondary players in a region overshadowed by an increasingly assertive China, which has not hesitated to push against the boundaries of its neighbors.