IT HAS EMERGED that an unborn child was likely the 17th victim of the deadly gun attack allegedly carried out by a US soldier in neighbouring Afghan villages earlier this month.
US Army Staff Sergeant Robert Bales was last week charged with the murder of 17 people in a deadly night raid on 11 March with no explanation for the figure’s discrepancy with the initial reports of 16 deaths including nine children.
However, the New York Times quotes a senior Afghan police official as saying that one of the female victims was pregnant meaning there were 17 victims.
This has not been confirmed by the US military or the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF).
Under the Uniform Code of Military Justice, the death of an unborn baby could be considered murder whether or not the killer was aware that his victim was actually pregnant.
Bales potentially faces the death penalty if convicted. He is currently being held at a military prison at Fort Leavenworth in Kansas having been flown out of Afghanistan following the shooting much to the anger of the Afghan authorities who wanted to try him there.
Meanwhile, 38-year-old Bales’ wife, Karilyn, said that her husband showed no signs of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and said that she doesn’t feel like she will ever believe he was involved in the shootings, as is alleged.
“I don’t know a lot about the symptoms of PTSD, so I wouldn’t know,” Mrs Bales told NBC’s Today show. “He doesn’t have nightmares, you know, things like that. No dreams.”
Karilyn Bales speaking to NBC television in the US
The wife of the Joint Base Lewis-McChord soldier said the accusations are “unbelievable to me.” She continued: ”He loves children, he’s like a big kid himself,” she said. “I have no idea what happened, but he would not … he loves children, and he would not do that.”
Karilyn Bales was in a grocery store when she first heard of the rampage in a phone call from her parents.
“They said well it looks like a U.S. soldier, some Afghan civilians were killed by a soldier,” she said.
She learned more when she got home. ”I saw 38-year-old staff sergeant, and I don’t think there are very many of those, and I probably prayed and prayed that my husband wasn’t involved,” she said.
“And then, I received a phone call from the Army saying that they would like to come out and talk to me. And I was relieved, because when you get a phone call, you know that your soldier is not deceased.”
She was told about the shootings: “They held my hand and they just said that perhaps, you know, they thought that he had left the base, and gone out and perhaps killed the Afghan civilians, and that was really the only sentence, and I just started crying.”
The mother-of-two said that the deaths of the nine children was particularly troubling: “It’s heartbreaking. I can’t imagine losing my children, so my heart definitely goes out to them for losing all of their children,” she added.
Bales said that she had set up a fund to pay for her husband’s legal defence. He is being represented by high-profile lawyer John Henry Browne.
- additional reporting from AP