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US soldier suspected in Afghanistan massacre to meet with lawyers

Staff Sgt. Robert Bales, (R) 1st platoon sergeant, Blackhorse Company, 2nd Battalion, 3rd Infantry Regiment, 3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, is seen during an exercise at the National Training Center in Fort Irwin, California, in this August 23, 2011 DVIDS handout photo. REUTERS-Department of Defence-Spc. Ryan Hallock-Handout Staff Sgt. Robert Bales, (L) 1st platoon sergean

A lawyer representing the US soldier implicated in the massacre of 16 villagers in Afghanistan said he and other members of the defense team would spend several days with him in the week ahead.

US Army Staff Sergeant Robert Bales is in solitary confinement at a military detention center at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, where he arrived late on Friday.

Bales, 38 and a four-tour combat veteran, is suspected of walking off his base in southern Afghanistan and gunning down the 16 civilians, including nine children and three women, in a massacre that sent American-Afghan relations into a tailspin.

Bales, whose military unit is based south of Tacoma, Washington, had been held in Kuwait after he was flown out of Afghanistan on Wednesday. He has not yet been charged.

Bales' civilian attorney, John Henry Browne, said in a statement he was being joined in the defense effort by Emma Scanlan, also a civilian, and a military defense counsel, Major Thomas Hurley.

"Public reports that Sergeant Bales' supervisors, family and friends describe him as a level-headed, experienced soldier are consistent with information gathered by the defense team," Browne's statement said.

"It is too early to determine what factors may have played into this incident and the defense team looks forward to reviewing the evidence, examining all of Sergeant Bale's medical and personnel records and interviewing witnesses."

An unnamed U.S. official had told The New York Times the killings were a result of "a combination of stress, alcohol and domestic issues - he just snapped."

But Browne has refuted that, saying on CNN that marital problems were "totally bogus." He said his client had a "very strong marriage and, frankly, we're all taking offense at that."

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Tags:  US  soldier  Robert  Bales  massacre  afghanistan  





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