US Suspect in Afghan Massacre Held at Military Base

Posted March 17th, 2012 at 5:25 pm (UTC-5)
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An American soldier who allegedly killed 16 Afghan civilians during a shooting spree in southern Kandahar province last Sunday has arrived at a military base in Kansas.

The suspect, identified as 38-year-old U.S. Army Staff Sergeant Robert Bales, was flown to Kansas from Kuwait where he was transferred in the days after the attack. He is being held in a private cell at the military's only maximum security prison at Fort Leavenworth.

Bales has not yet been charged and no details have been released on a trial. U.S. officials have promised a thorough investigation into the incident, but Afghans have called for him to be tried in Afghanistan.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai has accused the United States of failing to cooperate with his delegation in the probe. On Friday, he met with tribal elders and family members of those killed. He said civilian casualties have been going on “for too long” and that such “behavior can no longer be tolerated.”

Bales' civilian lawyer John Henry Browne said his client was likely suffering from stress after witnessing one of his fellow soldiers get his leg blown off a day before Sunday's massacre.

Browne said Bales was also not happy about being assigned a fourth tour of duty in a war zone. Bales – a married father of two – had served three tours in Iraq where he suffered a head injury and lost part of his foot.

Bales' family has been moved to a military base near Seattle, Washington, for security reasons. Browne said that, according to family members, the staff sergeant never had any animosity towards Muslims and described him as mild-mannered.