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US soldier charged with 17 counts of murder in Afghan civilian shootings

US Army Sgt. Robert Bales was charged with 17 counts of murder Friday for the alleged shooting of Afghan civilians, including women and children, in a Kandahar village almost two weeks ago. He will also be charged with six counts of attempted murder and six counts of aggravated assault. Bales allegedly went on a shooting rampage [JURIST report] in the village and, afterward, returned to his base and turned himself in. It was originally reported that 16 were killed, but there have now been 17 confirmed deaths from the incident. 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 will not be the first US soldier prosecuted in relation to deaths of civilians in Afghanistan. In February, the US Army dropped charges 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.

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Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

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