The Impact of War

Sgt. Bales Pretrial Hearing Set To Begin Monday

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A pretrial hearing is scheduled to begin Monday morning for the Washington soldier charged with massacring 16 Afghan civilians in March. Army prosecutors at Joint Base Lewis-McChord will make the case that Staff Sgt. Robert Bales should face a full court martial.

Sgt. Bales is a 39-year-old married father of two. He’s accused of entering two Afghan villages on the night of March 11 and murdering nine children, three women and four men –- then burning some of the bodies. Bales was on his fourth combat deployment at the time of killings.

Eugene Fidell teaches military justice at Yale Law School. He says this war crimes case stands out as one of the worst in recent memory.

“There have been disturbing cases obviously in both Iraq and Afghanistan, but for a single incident I think SSG Bales’ case is probably in a class by its own.”

The hearing is expected to last several days and will include testimony from Afghanistan. Bales’ wife is expected to attend the proceedings.

This is the second high profile war crimes case at Joint Base Lewis-McChord. Last year, a group of soldiers was prosecuted for staging the murders of Afghan villagers.

Copyright 2012 Northwest News Network

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Sgt. Robet Bales is charged with killing 16 Afghan civilians earlier this year. Photo courtesy of Maj. Brent Clemmer hide caption

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