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Soldier in Afghan killings may have taken drug

| Friday, July 19, 2013, 6:21 p.m.

SEATTLE — The lawyer for the American soldier who killed 16 Afghan civilians says Staff Sgt. Robert Bales used a controversial malaria drug linked to paranoia, hallucinations and psychosis while on a previous deployment in Iraq.

The Seattle Times reports that it's unclear whether Bales took the same drug in the days leading up to the slayings last year near a remote Army outpost in Afghanistan.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration earlier this month released a 2012 “adverse event” notification from a pharmacist who reported that an unnamed Army soldier taking mefloquine murdered Afghan civilians. Bales' attorney, John Henry Browne, told the Times that he has documents indicating his client took the drug while in Iraq but said medical records for his client's time in Afghanistan are incomplete.

“We know that he was given Lariam while in Iraq,” Browne said, referring to the drug's brand name. “We just don't have a complete set of medical records for that period (in Afghanistan). “He (Bales) can't help us. He just says he took ‘whatever they gave me.' ”

Bales pleaded guilty to the killings last month. A jury will decide in August whether the soldier is sentenced to life with or without the possibility of parole.

Browne declined to say whether he would raise Bales' use of mefloquine as a possible contributing factor to his crimes.

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