U.S. soldier pleads guilty to killing 16 Afghan villagers to avoid death penalty
The American soldier charged with killing 16 Afghan civilians during nighttime raids on two villages last year pleaded guilty Wednesday in a military courtroom to avoid the death penalty, setting the stage for him to recount details of the horrific slaughter.
Staff Sgt. Robert Bales pleaded guilty to 16 counts of premeditated murder and other charges in the March 2012 attacks on two villages near the remote base in southern Afghanistan where he was posted.
Most of the victims were women and children, and some of the bodies were burned; relatives have told The Associated Press they are irate at the notion Bales will escape execution for one of the worst atrocities of the Afghanistan war.
A military judge still must decide whether to accept his plea. (Handout)