Army soldier's life sentence in civilian massacre leaves Afghans unhappy
JOINT BASE LEWIS-McCHORD, Wash. — The American soldier who massacred 16 Afghan civilians last year in one of the worst atrocities of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars was sentenced Friday to life in prison with no chance of parole — the most severe sentence possible, but one that left surviving victims and relatives of the dead deeply unsatisfied.
“We wanted this murderer to be executed,” said Hajji Mohammad Wazir, who lost 11 family members in the attack by Army Staff Sgt. Robert Bales. “We were brought all the way from Afghanistan to see if justice would be served. Not our way — justice was served the American way.”
Bales, 40, pleaded guilty in June in a deal to avoid the death penalty for his March 11, 2012, raids near his remote outpost in Kandahar province, when he stalked through mud-walled compounds and shot 22 people — 17 of them women and children. Some screamed for mercy, while others didn't even have a chance to get out of bed.
The only possible sentences were life in prison without parole, or life with the possibility of release after 20 years. The soldier showed no emotion as the six jurors chose the former after deliberating for less than two hours.
Bales' mother, sitting in the front row of the court, bowed her head, rocked in her seat and wept.
An interpreter flashed a thumbs-up sign to a row of Afghan villagers who were either wounded or lost family members in the March 11, 2012, attacks.
“I saw his mother trying to cry, but at least she can go visit him,” Hajji Mohammad Naim, who was shot in the neck, said after the sentencing. “What about us? Our family members are actually 6 feet under.”
The villagers, who traveled nearly 7,000 miles to testify against Bales, spoke with reporters through an interpreter.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Housing authority officer shot dead in New Orleans
- Chicago inmate eats screws, needles, amasses $1M medical tab
- Florida mother who refused circumcision for son, 4, freed
- Navy divers to salvage remains of Confederate warship in Georgia
- Yellowstone injuries: Slips, falls outpace bear maulings
- John Nash, wife, ‘A Beautiful Mind’ inspiration, die in N.J. taxi crash
- Cleveland protests of officer’s acquittal mostly peaceful
- Senator Warren calls for public hearings on bank waivers
- After bruising safety crisis, U.S. car watchdog shows its bite
- Rare sighting of bird thrills watchers in Kansas
- Flash floods in Texas, Oklahoma kill 2; hundreds of homes gone