The Straits Times
Published on Nov 14, 2012

US soldier could face death over Afghan massacre


JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD (AFP) - Prosecutors called on Tuesday for a US soldier accused of killing 16 Afghan villagers to face a full court-martial and even death.

But the family of Staff Sergeant Robert Bales insisted he was innocent until proven guilty, calling him "courageous and honourable," while his lawyer raised questions about the role of alcohol, drugs and stress in the tragedy.

Wrapping up their case in the pre-trial hearing, prosecutors lashed the "heinous and despicable" alleged massacre in March, details of which were given during an eight-day hearing at a military base south of Seattle.

"Based on the sheer brutality and nature of the crimes, it is our recommendation to proceed to a general court-martial," said prosecutor Major Rob Stelle at Joint Base Lewis-McChord outside Tacoma, Washington.