It was jarring for survivors and witnesses of the 2012 attack by U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Robert Bales on two villages in Afghanistan to come to the U.S. to testify at his trial this month, translator Ahmad Shafi tells Morning Edition.
They were at Washington State's Joint Base Lewis-McChord — a place much different than their homes in Kandahar. What's more, the U.S. military's system of justice was strange to them.
A military jury has sentenced Robert Bales, the U.S. Army staff sergeant who admitted to killing 16 Afghan civilians in 2012, to life in prison without parole. During the punishment hearings held this week, Bales was confronted by family members of victims and people who survived the attacks of March 11, 2012.
Details of the massacre of 16 Afghans by a U.S. soldier last spring are emerging in a courtroom near Tacoma, Wash., where survivors of that attack traveled to confront Army Staff Sgt. Robert Bales. A six-member military jury is hearing testimony at a sentencing hearing for Bales.
At least seven people made the trip from Afghanistan to Washington state to speak at the hearing at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, where Bales' Army unit is based.
Army Sgt. Robert Bales pleaded guilty Wednesday to killing 16 Afghan civilians in a nighttime massacre. Audie Cornish talks with NPR's Martin Kaste, who listened to Sgt. Bales recount the killings at a military court hearing in Washington state. Bales has struck a deal with prosecutors that will spare him the death penalty.
Credit Defense Video and Imagery Distribution System / AFP/Getty Images
The United States soldier charged with the murder of 16 Afghan villagers entered a guilty plea on Wednesday during a court hearing at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington state.
Staff Sgt. Robert Bales pleaded guilty to 16 counts of premeditated murder, The Seattle Times reports, but he pleaded not guilty to "attempting to impede an investigation into the case by damaging a laptop computer."