US soldier confesses to Afghan mass killings - report
MOSCOW, June 6 (RIA Novosti) - US soldier Robert Bales charged with massacring 16 people, nine of them children, in southern Afghanistan last year pleaded guilty in an attempt to avoid a death penalty, CBSNews.com reported.
According to investigators, Staff Sgt. Bales left his base in southern Afghanistan early on March 11, 2012. He attacked people in a nearby village, returned to his base and then left again to attack another village killing a total of 16 people, mostly women and children.
“This act was without legal justification, sir,” Bales was quoted as saying at a hearing in a military court addressing the judge.
Col. Jeffery Nance, the judge at the Joint Base Lewis-McChord military court, will have to decide whether to accept Bales’ plea, according to CBSNews.com.
Bales’ lawyer said earlier that his defendant would plead guilty to charges of premeditated murder and tell the court his account of the events in order to evade the death penalty he was facing.
Prosecutors said that Bales, a decorated veteran of four combat deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan, had demonstrated “consciousness of wrong-doing.” Army investigators said he tested positive for steroids three days after the killings and other soldiers testified he had been drinking the night of the killings.
The killings sparked furious protests prompting the United States to temporarily halt combat operations in Afghanistan in the wake of the killings. It took US investigators three weeks to reach the crime scenes.