World Bulletin / News Desk
Two more Afghans were set to testify on Wednesday in the second day of the sentencing hearing in a U.S. military court for the Army soldier who has pleaded guilty to killing 16 unarmed civilians last year in Afghanistan.
Mullah Khamal Adin and Haji Mohammad Wazir are expected to tell of their fear and anguish after losing loved ones in the rampage by U.S. Army Staff Sergeant Robert Bales, who pleaded guilty to the killings in June.
An Afghan teenager who survived the rampage testified on Tuesday at a U.S. military base in Washington state about the pain of losing his grandmother.
The teenager, who was shot in the legs and whose sister was also seriously wounded, was among a group of Afghan victims of the violence flown to the United States to testify on the impact of the killings.
"She loved me extra and every time I think of her I cry," the boy, whose name was given only as Rafiulla and who was described as about 15 years old, said through an interpreter about his grandmother.
He was one of five Afghans who survived the attack or lost loved ones in the rampage who testified on Tuesday about the anger, fear and hopelessness they felt in the massacre's wake.
In exchange for his guilty plea, Bales will be spared the death penalty. A jury of six military personnel will determine whether Bales will spend the rest of his life in prison or be eligible for the possibility of parole after 20 years.
Bales, a veteran of four combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, has admitted to gunning down the villagers, mostly women and children, in nighttime attacks on their family compounds in Kandahar province in March 2012.
After the final prosecution witnesses are called, the defense is due to mount its case, possibly also on Wednesday. The defense was expected to summon Bales' wife and other family members, as well as civilian and military doctors.
Bales' lawyers are expected to argue that post-traumatic stress disorder and a brain injury were factors in the killings. They have said Bales suffered from PTSD even before his deployment to Afghanistan.