Afghan villagers massacred by more than one US soldier
By Sajad - Mon Nov 12 2012, 7:44 pm
A shooting rampage in March that left 16 Afghans dead in two villages was the work of more than one person, an Afghan police investigator testified on Sunday, contradicting the U.S. government’s account.
The defense witness said the extent of the carnage, wrought overnight in two villages near a US army base in March, was too great for it to be the work of only Sergeant Robert Bales, facing a possible court martial.
Afghan Uniform Police . who searched the scene of the killings the next morning quoted by AFP said, “One person cannot do this work. One person doesn’t have the courage to go from one village to another in the night.”
However the government believes Bales was solely responsible for the deaths, and survivors have testified to seeing only a single soldier. But several indirect accounts have suggested that more than one U.S. soldier was involved.
Bales is accused of killing 16 civilians, including nine children, in a March 11 attack. The hearing will help determine whether he faces a court-martial.
In the meantime on Saturday, a U.S. investigator told the hearing that the wife of one of the victims told her during questioning in June that she saw more than one soldier on the night in question.
Army criminal investigator Leona Mansapit quoted by Reuters said the wife of Mohamed Dawood, who was killed in the village of Najiban, recalled a gunman entering the couple’s room shouting about the Taliban, while another man, a U.S. soldier, stood at the door.
This woman was persuaded by male family members not to testify to the hearing, an Army source, who asked not to be named, said on Sunday.
In three nighttime sessions of the hearing, children as young as 7 described the massacre that took the lives of their parents and friends. Bales watched the video testimony by live video link.
“I saw the person who killed my brother sitting there, head down with guilt,” Haji Mullah Baraan said Monday in an interview with The Associated Press. “He didn’t look up toward the camera.”
Bales faces 16 counts of premeditated murder and six counts of attempted murder. The preliminary hearing, which began Nov. 5 and is scheduled to end with closing arguments Tuesday, will help determine whether he faces a court-martial. He could face the death penalty if convicted.