• Families of Afghan victims express sadness, anger at Bales sentencing

    By: Kevin McCarty


    JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. - The Army staff sergeant who admitted murdering 16 Afghan civilians during a late-night killing spree will spend the rest of his life in prison without the possibility of parole. That's the decision of a military jury that deliberated Bales' sentence for one hour and 40 minutes after hearing three days of testimony from prosecution and defense witnesses.

    But for several Afghans who came to Joint Base Lewis McChord to testify during the hearing, the sentence was not enough.

    "We wanted this murderer to be executed, but we didn't get our wish," said Hajji Mohammad Wazir through a military interpreter.

    The Afghan witnesses included survivors of the massacre, as well as family members of victims who died on March 11, 2012, when Bales left his base outside Kandahar, shooting his victims, mostly women and children, then burning the bodies of several of them.

    "If I had a chance to talk to Sgt. Bales, I would ask him directly right to his face, 'You're a murderer. Why did you do this?'" said Hajji Mullah Baran, whose brother was shot by Bales as his children looked on. "'Didn't you ever think of being a human being?'"

    Bales' sentence was decided by a jury made up of three officers and three enlisted men.

    In addition to the sentence of life with no parole, Bales will be demoted to E-1, the lowest enlisted rank, and will face forfeiture of pay and benefits and a dishonorable discharge.

    Bales showed no emotion as the sentence was read in a military courtroom at Joint Base Lewis McChord Friday. His mother, sitting directly behind him, broke down.

    Hajji Mohammad Naim, 60, who became emotional and refused to answer questions from Army prosecutors when he took the witness stand on Tuesday, expressed his anger while speaking to reporters.

    Naim survived gunshot wounds after coming face-to-face with Bales, who jumped the wall of Naim's home and attacked his family.

    "I've been shot in my neck, shot in my face," said Naim.

    Naim said the sentence that spares Bales' life is not enough and does not serve justice for the crimes he committed.

    "I saw his mother trying to cry. But at least she can go and visit him," said Naim. "But what about us? Our family members are actually 6 [feet] deep under."

    Next Up: