Robert Bales

AP Photo/Anja Niedringhaus

The Department of Defense has denied a request by reporters for information about Staff Sergeant Robert Bales’ murder of 16 Afghan civilians.

It was jarring for survivors and witnesses of the 2012 attack by U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Robert Bales on two villages in Afghanistan to come to the U.S. to testify at his trial this month, translator Ahmad Shafi tells Morning Edition.

They were at Washington State's Joint Base Lewis-McChord — a place much different than their homes in Kandahar. What's more, the U.S. military's system of justice was strange to them.

A military jury has sentenced Robert Bales, the U.S. Army staff sergeant who admitted to killing 16 Afghan civilians in 2012, to life in prison without parole. During the punishment hearings held this week, Bales was confronted by family members of victims and people who survived the attacks of March 11, 2012.

AP Photo/Peter Millett

Staff Sgt Robert Bales, who pleaded guilty in June to the murder of 16 Afghan civilians, is being tried before a military jury of six who will decide whether he should be eligible for parole. Nine Afghan villagers who survived the massacre have flown to Joint Base Lewis-McChord for the sentencing trial.

Flickr photo/ Ricardo Mangual

Yesterday US Army Staff Sergeant Robert Bales pleaded guilty to a brutal massacre. The night time killings took place on March 11 of last year in two small villages located near a remote military camp in Kandahar. Since the massacre Associated Press reporter Kathy Gannon has spent a lot of time with the survivors and the families of the victims in Afghanistan. She describes how they've dealt with the massacre's emotional aftermath.

There's something exceptional about this interview. While it's possible to get swept up into the international drama of an event like the Bales massacre, Gannon reminds us that at the center of the media storm there are ordinary people who have suffered.

Full list of stories from KUOW Presents, June 6:

High Desert Warrior

Correction 6/6/2013: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated that Staff Sgt. Bales was from Lake Tapps, Ohio.

Staff Sgt. Robert Bales, the American soldier from Lake Tapps, Wash., charged with killing 16 Afghan civilians during night time raids on two villages last year, pleaded guilty Wednesday to avoid the death penalty. The judge, Col. Jeffery Nance has accepted his plea agreement which takes the option of the  death penalty off the table.

What Sgt. Bales’ Guilty Plea Means for Afghanistan And The United States

Jun 5, 2013
AP Photo/Anja Niedringhaus

 Today Sergeant Robert Bales admitted to killing 16 Afghan civilians. How will Afghanis react if Bales does not get the death penalty?  What will that mean for the US troop withdrawal strategy? Patricia Murphy reports live from the trial, and Ross Reynolds interviews Larry Goodson, South Asian Specialist at the US Army War College; plus Kate Clark, a senior analyst with the Afghanistan analysts network, and President Hamid Karzai's brother Mahmood.

High Desert Warrior

Attorneys for Staff Sergeant Robert Bales say they’re unsure if they’ll pursue a mental health defense in the case. 

But if they do, the judge has ordered that the soldier must undergo a so-called sanity board review.

Bales is accused of murdering 16 Afghan civilians and wounding six others in an overnight rampage last March.

The top forces commander at Washington’s Joint Base Lewis-McChord has decided to seek the death penalty against Staff Sgt. Robert Bales. He’s the 39-year old soldier accused of murdering 16 Afghan civilians earlier this year.

Bales is accused of conducting two predawn raids on villages in southern Afghanistan. The victims were mostly women and children and the Army says some of the bodies were burned. Prosecutors had asked for a death penalty trial and top commanders at Lewis-McChord agreed.

The Risks Of Reporting From Syria

Dec 20, 2012
Turkish journalist in Syria
AP Photo/Burhan Ozbilici

According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, 28 reporters have been killed Syria this year — making it one of the most dangerous places on earth for the media to cover. What makes reporting from Syria so dangerous, and why do journalists continue to risk their lives for the story? 

The U.S. Army announced Wednesday that Staff Sgt. Robert Bales will face a general court-martial on 16 counts of premeditated murder and other charges. If convicted, the maximum penalty is death. The decision follows a pretrial hearing last month.

An attorney for  Bales says she's "disappointed" by the Army's decision to seek the death penalty against the Washington-based soldier accused of massacring Afghan villagers in March.

Pre-trial hearings continue this evening at Joint Base Lewis-McChord for Army Staff Sergeant Robert Bales. He’s accused of massacring 16 civilians in Afghanistan, including nine children. Prosecutors say he left his base last March and went on an overnight five-hour killing spree.

The hearings will determine whether the case will advance to court-martial, where the government has said it plans to seek the death penalty. KUOW’s Sara Lerner spoke with Patricia Murphy, who’s covering the hearings.

Pretrial hearings for Staff Sergeant Robert Bales continue tonight when Afghan villagers and soldiers are expected to testify by video. The hearings are expected to run into the early morning hours US time.