US Soldier: No 'Good Reason' Why I Killed Afghan Villagers

Robert Bales pleads guilty to avoid death penalty
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jun 5, 2013 11:23 AM CDT
Updated Jun 5, 2013 1:56 PM CDT

(Newser) As expected, the American soldier charged with killing 16 Afghan civilians during a nighttime massacre on two villages last year has pleaded guilty to avoid the death penalty. Staff Sgt. Robert Bales entered the plea today in a military courtroom near Seattle. Bales, 39, said he left the remote base where he was posted in southern Afghanistan and went to the nearby villages of mud-walled compounds. Once inside, Bales said he "formed the intent" of killing the victims, then shot each one. "This act was without legal justification, sir," Bales told the judge.

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At one point, the judge, Col. Jeffery Nance asked Bales why he did it. Bales responded: "Sir, as far as why—I've asked that question a million times since then. There's not a good reason in this world for why I did the horrible things I did." Most of the victims were women and children, and some of the bodies were burned. Bales said he recalls seeing a kerosene lantern that night, along with a fire, but he said he didn't remember setting the bodies on fire. (Read more Robert Bales stories.)

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