(Image Credit: Spc. Ryan Hallock, 28th Public Affairs/U.S. Army)
Murder charges against Army Staff Sgt. Robert Bales are expected to be filed Friday, for his alleged shooting rampage almost two weeks ago that resulted in the deaths of 17 Afghan civilians.
A U.S. official confirms that Bales will be charged with 17 counts of murder as well, six counts of attempted murder, and six counts of aggravated assault, in addition to other violations of the U.S. Code of Military Justice. All of the charges are related to the 17 deaths that allegedly resulted from Bales' rampage.
The number of Afghans killed in the incident has been reported widely as 16, but criminal charges are expected to include 17 counts of murder. U.S. officials said the updated number of casualties reflected either the death of one of the civilians initially wounded in the rampage, or new information gathered by Army investigators on the ground in Afghanistan.
Bales is accused of sneaking out of his remote combat outpost in the middle of the night and terrorizing two nearby villages, with Afghan civilians his apparent targets. Nine of the victims killed were children.
Bales, 38, was detained by fellow soldiers after he returned to his outpost.
John Henry Browne, Bales' civilian attorney, said that during his initial meeting with his client, Bales did not have any recollection of the March 11 rampage.
Bales, who has a home in Washington State where his wife and children live, is now being held at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., and though charges in his case will be announced by U.S. Forces in Afghanistan, U.S. officials say his court proceedings will be held in the United States.