The US Army has dropped one of 17 murder charges and added others, including steroid and alcohol use, in its case against Army Sgt. Robert Bales, his lawyer told reporters on Friday. Bales was charged with 17 counts of murder [JURIST report] in March for the alleged shooting of Afghan civilians, including women and children, in a Kandahar village. Bales allegedly went on a shooting rampage [JURIST report] in the village and, afterward, returned to his base and turned himself in. After the shooting, the Afghanistan parliament [official website] demanded that the soldier be given a trial in Afghanistan. The US Department of Defense, however, said that the US military would investigate [press release] and hold the responsible soldier accountable. Bales now faces 16 counts of premeditated murder; he is also charged with six counts of attempted murder, six counts of aggravated assault and a number of other offenses.
Bales will not be the first US soldier prosecuted in relation to deaths of civilians in Afghanistan. In February, the US Army dropped charges [JURIST report] against Army Specialist Michael Wagnon, the last of five soldiers to be charged in connection with the killing of three Afghan civilians. In November, US Sgt. Calvin Gibbs was convicted on 15 charges [JURIST report] of murder, assault and conspiracy in the same case. Before Gibbs was convicted, in March of last year, Army Specialist Jeremy Morlock admitted to three counts of murder [JURIST report] as part of a plot with him and other soldiers to kill Afghan civilians.