US soldier gets life term for Afghan massacre

Last Updated: Sat, Aug 24, 2013 07:10 hrs

San Francisco, Aug 24 (IANS) A US soldier who killed 16 Afghan civilians last year was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole in Washington.

Army Staff Sergeant Robert Bales appeared in blue military dress. He showed no emotion as the jury announced its verdict Friday. He was led away from the court without a chance to hug his weeping mother, Xinhua reported.

The 40-year-old soldier's lawyers argued that he should one day be eligible for parole, while prosecutors who described him as a "man of no moral compass" pointed to the heinous nature of the crimes in arguing to keep him in jail for life.

On March 11, 2012, Bales slipped away from his military base before dawn and killed 16 unarmed Afghan civilians, mostly women and children, in Kandahar province in southern Afghanistan.

"We wanted this murderer to be executed," said Hajji Mohammad Wazir, who lost 11 family members in the attack.

"We were brought all the way from Afghanistan to see if justice would be served. Not our way - justice was served the American way," he added.

The veteran of four combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan apologised Thursday for the attack.

"I'm truly, truly sorry to those people whose families got taken away," he said.

Bales, a father of two, pleaded guilty to the killings in June in a deal that spared him the death penalty. He admitted ingesting alcohol and valium prior to the rampage.

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