The US soldier who massacred 16 Afghan civilians last year in one of the worst atrocities of the Iraq and Afghanistan has been sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole.
Staff Sgt. Robert Bales, 40, who pleaded guilty in June in a deal to avoid the death penalty, showed no emotion as the verdict was announced at Joint Base Lewis-McChord south of Seattle.
Bales’ mother, sitting in the front row of the court, bowed her head, rocked in her seat, and wept. An interpreter flashed a thumbs-up sign to a row of Afghan villagers who were either wounded or lost family members in the March 11, 2012 attacks.
Bales never offered an explanation for why he armed himself with a 9 mm pistol and an M-4 rifle and left his post on the killing mission, but he apologized on the witness stand Thursday and described the slaughter as an “act of cowardice, behind a mask of fear, bulls— and bravado.”
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