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Bales hearing: Afghan investigator challenges single shooter theory of Panjwai massacre

Post by Adam Ashton / The News Tribune on Nov. 11, 2012 at 8:31 pm |
November 11, 2012 8:31 pm

8:30 p.m. update: An Afghan police officer who investigated the March slaughter of 16 civilians in Kandahar province contends that one person could not have carried out all of the killings, contradicting the Army’s case that Staff Sgt. Robert Bales executed the massacre by himself.

“One person cannot do this work,” Maj. Khudai Dad testified via video link from Kandahar tonight in an Army evidence hearing at Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

His theory of how the killings unfolded contradicts multiple aspects of how the Army believes the massacre unfolded.

Khudai Dad argues that killings took place simultaneously in the villages of Alkozai and Najiban. If anything, he thinks they started in Najiban.

“One person cannot go to three places at once,” he said.

The Army contends that Bales, a 39-year-old soldier on his fourth combat tour, slipped out of his combat outpost twice in the early hours of March 11, first to kill Afghans in Alkozai and then about an hour later to shoot more civilians in Najiban. He allegedly wounded six more noncombatants in addition to the 16 the Army accuses him of killing.

Bales turned himself in to his fellow soldiers at Village Stability Platform Belambay at 4:49 a.m. on March 11, according to statements from soldiers who  testified that they apprehended him and an Army surveillance video that shows a figure walking from the direction of Najiban to the American base.

Khudai Dad reported a messy scene in both villages when he visited them March 11. He went to Najiban first, where female relatives of the deceased Mohammed Dawood threw shoes at him.

“Their man was killed,” Khudai Dad said. “Everybody was crying, sisters, wives.”

He retrieved shell casings from three different homes in the two villages. He said Afghan soldiers broke protocol by taking shell casings themselves. They were supposed to secure the scene, and let him gather evidence.

Khudai Dad conceded that he spent only about an hour at the two villages.

Over the past week, American soldiers at Belambay have testified that Bales was the only soldier missing from their ranks on the night of the killings. Several Afghan witnesses testified that a single American soldier entered their homes that night and wounded them.

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