Army Staff Sgt. Robert Bales is expected to be told Friday he faces 17 counts of murder and six counts of attempted murder, along with other charges, in connection with a shooting rampage in two southern Afghanistan villages that shocked Americans back home and further roiled U.S.-Afghan relations.
The charges come almost two weeks after the massacre in which Bales allegedly left his base in the early morning hours and shot Afghans, including women and nine children, while they slept in their beds, then burned some of the bodies. Bales will be read the charges on Friday at the military prison at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., where he has been held since being flown from Afghanistan last week, a U.S. official said. Bales’ civilian attorney, John Henry Browne, said Friday without commenting on the specific charges that he believes the government will have a hard time proving its case and that at some stage in the prosecution his client’s mental state will be an important issue.
In addition to murder and attempted murder, the charges will include six counts of aggravated assault as well as a number of other violations of military law, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the charges before they were announced.