U.S. lacks "proof" on Afghan shooting: suspect's lawyer

Reuters News
Posted: Mar 20, 2012 4:41 PM
U.S. lacks "proof" on Afghan shooting: suspect's lawyer

LANSING, Kansas (Reuters) - U.S. authorities lack proof of what occurred the night a U.S. soldier is suspected of killing 16 villagers in Afghanistan, the lawyer representing the serviceman said on Tuesday.

"I'm very concerned now they don't have much proof of anything," attorney John Henry Browne told Reuters after meeting with U.S. Army Staff Sergeant Robert Bales on Tuesday for a second day in a military detention center in Kansas.

Browne said he has now spent 11 hours with Bales discussing the events of Sunday, March 11, when Bales allegedly walked off his base in southern Afghanistan and gunned down the 16 civilians, including nine children and three women, in a massacre that damaged U.S.-Afghan relations.

Bales, 38, a four-tour combat veteran, has not yet been charged, but an official from his home base near Tacoma, Washington, has said that charges would likely be filed by the end of this week.

Browne described his time with Bales at the Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, facility as "debriefings" and a time of "getting him to trust me." He was speaking at his nearby hotel in Lansing, Kansas, after his latest session with Bales.

Browne said he was leaving Kansas but his legal team would continue to meet with Bales this week.

Asked what he thought Bales would say to the Afghan people, Browne said he would say "be peaceful."

Late on Monday, after his first face-to-face meeting with Bales, Browne said the soldier had gaps in his memory about the night in question.

"He doesn't remember everything about the evening in question," Browne told reporters. "That doesn't mean he has amnesia. There are a lot of other options."

(Reporting By Kevin Murphy; Writing by Bill Rigby; Editing by Eric Beech)