US soldier goes on trial over Afghan massacre


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The Independent US

Military prosecutors have said they will seek the death penalty for a US soldier accused of killing 16 Afghan villagers when he ventured out of his camp on two revenge-fuelled drunken forays earlier this year.

The lead prosecutor, Lieutenant Colonel Jay Morse, told a preliminary hearing he would present evidence proving "chilling premeditation" on the part of Staff Sergeant Robert Bales, a decorated veteran of four combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The shootings of mostly women and children in Afghanistan's Kandahar province in March marked the worst case of civilian slaughter blamed on a US soldier since the Vietnam war.

Bales faces 16 counts of premeditated murder, six counts of attempted murder, and charges of assault and wrongfully possessing and using steroids and alcohol while deployed.

At the preliminary hearing on Monday, prosecution lawyers showed a video of Bales walking back to the post after the alleged attacks. Three soldiers ordered him to drop his weapons and took him into custody as he is heard saying, "Are you f***ing kidding me?" Several witnesses said Bales' trousers were spattered with blood.