American soldier Robert Bales admits murdering 16 Afghans to avoid death penalty

 

The American soldier charged with killing 16 Afghan civilians during night-time raids on two villages last year has pleaded guilty to avoid the death penalty.

Staff Sgt Robert Bales admitted 16 counts of premeditated murder and other charges. He pleaded not guilty to one charge, impeding an investigation.

Bales, 39, was charged over the March 2012 attacks on two villages near the remote base in southern Afghanistan where he was posted.

Most of the victims were women and children, and some of the bodies were burned; relatives have expressed anger at the notion Bales will escape execution for one of the worst atrocities of the Afghanistan war.

A military judge will question the soldier about what happened before deciding whether to accept his guilty pleas. Bales’ lawyer, John Henry Browne, has said he expects his client to admit to “very specific facts” about the killings at the hearing at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, south of Seattle.

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