US soldier to be charged with 17 counts of murder of Afghans | world | Hindustan Times
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US soldier to be charged with 17 counts of murder of Afghans

world Updated: Mar 23, 2012 11:05 IST

American soldier Staff Sgt Robert Bales will be charged with 17 counts of murder of civilians, including women and children, in a shooting rampage in Afghanistan, a senior US official said on Friday.

Responsible for one of the worst American atrocities of Afghan war, 38-year-old Bales would be formally charged today, the official said on condition of anonymity, adding that the charges confirm the US soldier was fully aware of his actions and that the slayings were premeditated.

Charges against the soldier, who is currently lodged in a high-secure prison, include 17 counts of murder, six counts of attempted murder and six counts of aggravated assault as well as dereliction of duty and other violations of military law.

Blake faces trial under the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

"The murder charges indicate that Army prosecutors have concluded that the slayings were premeditated and that Bales was fully aware of his actions, but Bales's civilian attorney has said that his client does not remember much about what happened in the pre-dawn hours of March 11," The Washington Post reported.

John Henry Browne, a lawyer for the soldier said he expected the charges. "I'm not persuaded by many facts," he told The New York Times.

"There's no crime scene. There's no DNA. There's no confession, although they're leaking something, which I don’t believe until I see it. This is going to be a hard case for the government to prove. And my client can't help me a lot with some of the things because he has mental problems and I believe they’re totally legitimate," he was quoted as saying.

According to CNN, Browne predicted the case - whenever it comes to trial - is going to be "extremely difficult" for the prosecution. "They have no murder scene, no forensics," he told the CNN.

"I'm going to make them prove every claim," he added.