24 Aug 2013

Life in jail for Afghan rampage soldier

8:28 am on 24 August 2013

A military jury has sentenced an American soldier to life in prison without the possibility of parole, for killing 16 Afghan civilians on their family compounds in a night-time rampage last year.

Army Staff Sergeant Robert Bales, a veteran of four combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, has admitted to slaughtering the villagers, mostly women and children, in attacks in Kandahar province in March 2012.

Bales has apologised for the attack, which he called an "act of cowardice".

The guilty pleas were made in a deal which spared Bales the death penalty.

A sentencing jury of six military personnel deliberated for less than two hours before deciding he should spend the rest of his life in prison, Reuters reports.

The agency is reporting that Bales showed no emotion as the verdict was handed down, but his mother cried and rocked back and forth.

Army prosecutors have said Bales acted alone and with premeditation when he left his outpost twice in the middle of the night to carry out the rampage.

Defence lawyers have said Bales suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder and a brain injury before he was sent to Kandahar province.