Photo: Spc. Ryan Hallock, 28th Public Affairs/U.S. Army
U.S. Army Staff Sergeant Robert Bales has been officially charged with the premeditated murder of 17 Afghan civilians and could face the death penalty, according to a press release from the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF).The 38-year-old soldier is accused of walking off a U.S. military base in Panjwai district of Kandahar province before dawn on March 11 with his 9mm pistol and M-4 rifle and killing nine Afghan children and eight adults as well as burning some of the bodies.
Bales has also been charged with six counts of attempted murder and assault as six other Afghans — a man, a woman and four children — were wounded.
The Associated Press reported that the 29 charges were officially filed just before noon local time at the U.S. military prison at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, where he is confined.
The ISAF press release stated that the maximum possible punishment for a premeditated murder conviction is a dishonorable discharge from the Armed Forces, reduction to the lowest enlisted grade, total forfeiture of pay and allowances, and death (with a mandatory minimum sentence of imprisonment for life with eligibility for parole).
The military hasn’t executed a service member since 1961 when an Army ammunition handler was hanged for raping an 11-year-old girl in Austria.
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