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US Soldier Faces Hearing in Afghan Massacre

November 05, 2012

by VOA News

A U.S. Army soldier accused of killing 16 Afghan villagers during a pre-dawn rampage in March is appearing in a military courtroom for the first time Monday.

Staff Sergeant Robert Bales will face a preliminary hearing at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in the northwestern U.S. state of Washington. The hearing is expected to last two weeks and include live video testimony from witnesses in Afghanistan.

The proceedings will determine whether Bales faces a court martial. If convicted, he could receive the death penalty. The U.S. military has not executed a service member in five decades.

Bales, an 11-year military veteran, is accused of walking out of his southern Afghanistan military post under the cover of darkness and gunning down the civilians, including several children.

U.S. forces have paid compensation to the families of the dead and to those wounded in the attack.

Staff Sergeant Bales was on his fourth military deployment, after three in Iraq, where reports say he suffered a brain injury.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.

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