A US soldier who killed 16 Afghan villagers has apologised in court for his “act of cowardice”.
Robert Bales, 39, avoided the death penalty by pleading guilty in June and is now attempting to persuade a jury he should have the chance of one day being freed from prison.
He told the jury, which will decide if his life sentence should include the prospect of parole, that he hid behind “a mask of fear, bullshit and bravado” and added: “I’m truly, truly sorry to those people whose families got taken away.” The March 2012 massacre in Kandahar Province prompted angry protests that forced the US to temporarily halt combat operations.
Defence lawyers argue Bales “snapped” after four combat deployments and deserves leniency. They say he suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder.
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