The US Army said today it will seek the death penalty against the soldier accused of massacring 16 Afghan villagers, including nine children, during pre-dawn raids in March. The announcement followed a pretrial hearing last month for Staff Sgt. Robert Bales, 39, who faces premeditated murder and other charges in the attack on two villages in southern Afghanistan. No date has been set for his court martial, which will be held at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, south of Seattle.
Yesterday, Bales' civilian lawyer told the AP that he met with Army officials last week to argue that Bales should not face the death penalty, given that Bales was serving his fourth deployment in a war zone. Bales' defense team has said the government's case is incomplete and outside experts have said a key issue going forward will be to determine whether Bales, who served tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan, suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder. Military prosecutors had called for the death penalty during a pretrial hearing last month.