U.S. official: Bales to be charged with 17 counts of murderMar-24-2012
Army Staff Sgt. Robert Bales will be charged with 17 counts of murder and six counts of assault and attempted murder related to a March 11 shooting spree in Afghanistan, a senior U.S. official said Thursday.
The charges are expected to be announced Friday. The official could not explain why the count is now 17, when 16 have been reported killed in the incident.
Bales' lawyer, John Henry Browne, told CNN that he did not respond to leaks and that he would not comment before seeing the charges against his client. Even then, he said, "There's probably not much to say."
Still, 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," the lawyer said Thursday night from outside his Seattle office. "I'm going to make them prove every claim."
Military law experts acknowledge proving the case may be hard, especially given that there are no autopsies to help prove the cause of death -- in large part because those killed were buried quickly, in accordance with Islamic tradition -- and witnesses may not willingly fly from Afghanistan to the United States to testify.
U.S. officials have alleged that Bales carried out the killings alone in two neighboring villages in the Panjwai district of Kandahar province, in southern Afghanistan. Bales was flown out of Afghanistan last week and is being held at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.
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Posted by Ken at 4:50 AM
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