Army Staff Sergeant Robert Bales’ guilty plea to the premeditated murder of 16 Afghan civilians last year was accepted by a U.S. military judge. Bales’ deal with prosecutors that spares the soldier from the death penalty is now approved.
Thirty-nine-year-old Bales is a decorated veteran of four combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. He now faces a maximum penalty of life in prison without the possibility of parole.
A military jury will decide his sentence after further proceedings set to begin on the 19th of August 2013.
Who is Bales
Born on the 30th of June 1973, Bales is a United States Army soldier who murdered sixteen Afghan civilians in Panjwai, Kandahar, Afghanistan on March 11, 2012. The incident has since been widely referred to in media reports as the Kandahar massacre.
He was formally charged with seventeen counts of murder and six counts of assault and attempted murder on March 23, 2012. Currently, Bales is being held in detention at Northwest Joint Regional Correctional Facility at Joint Base Lewis-McChord.
On the night of March 11, 2012, sixteen Afghan civilians were shot and killed in the villages of Balandi and Alkozai near Camp Belamby.
On March 24, U.S. Army investigators alleged that Bales was the only person responsible for the shootings. According to the investigators, Bales had split the killings into two attacks, returning to Camp Belamby after the first attack before leaving again an hour later.
A senior military official stated that Bales had been drinking alcohol with two other soldiers on the night of the shootings, in violation of military rules in combat zones.
Bales acknowledged the killings and “told individuals what happened” immediately after being captured, according to Defense Secretary Leon Panetta.