An US Army solider has pleaded guilty Wednesday to multiple charges leveled against him following the deaths of over a dozen civilians in Afghanistan last year in what is considered one of the worst atrocities since US arrival.
Staff Sgt. Robert Bales has been held in connection to two attacks on villages in March 2012 near a southern US military base and is now pleading guilty to 16 counts of premeditated murder and lesser charges.
Reports say the guilty plea was made in the hopes that Bales will be spared the execution sentence Army prosecutors had been seeking.
Part of the requirements for Bales’ guilty plea was to walk through, in detail, the processes of his crimes, it has been reported.
Reading from a prepared statement, Bales described each killing in similar wording, explaining that after arriving to the villages he “formed the intent” of murdering civilians there and proceeded to shoot them systematically, most in the head.
“This act was without legal justification, sir,” Bales told Colonel Jeffery Nance, military judge overseeing the court martial at Joint Base Lewis-McChord located south of Seattle, Washington.
US Army soldier Sargent Bales, serving his fourth deployment, may have been suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, possibly exacerbated by a severe head injury experts have said.
An investigation has revealed that Bales, intoxicated by contraband alcohol and snorted Valium, left his Army base alone to commit the massacres shortly before dawn.
Reports of eye witness testimonies, delivered by Afghan civilians via satellite video, recount the horror. Many describe Bales callously ignoring pleas from his targets, seemingly singling out women and children. One witness recalled young boys scrambling in terror and trying to hide, pleading with Bales.
As US Army solider Sargent Bales pleads guilty to the Kandahar massacre, military officials are being forced to consider the effects long-term and repeat deployment has on enlisted men and women.
[Image via KPIC - CBS]