Bonnie Petrie

Sgt. Robert Bales Officially Charged for Afghan Massacre

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US Army(FORT LEAVENWORTH, Texas) — Staff sergeant Robert Bales, the American soldier accused of murdering more than a dozen Afghan civilians, has been officially charged with 17 counts of murder among other charges, military officials said.

The 38-year-old stands accused of going out from his base in Kandahar, Afghanistan, in the middle of the night Sunday and walking to nearby villages where he broke into homes and opened fire on the families inside. Nine of the victims killed were children. In addition to the murder charges, Bales was charged with six counts of attempted murder and six counts of assault.

Military officials had previously reported that 16 civilians were killed in the Sunday attack, implying there was either an initial miscount of the dead or one of the several Afghan civilians who were wounded has died.

Bales, who has a home in Washington State where his wife and children live, is now being held at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., and though charges in his case have been announced by U.S. Forces in Afghanistan, U.S. officials say his military court proceedings will be held in the United States.

If convicted, the maximum possible punishment Bales could receive under the Uniform Code of Military Justice is dishonorable discharge from the Armed Forces, reduction to the lowest enlisted grade, total forfeiture of pay and allowances, and death (with a mandatory minimum sentence of imprisonment for life with eligibility for parole), according to a military statement.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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