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Afghan girl tells court she hid behind father as he was shot

Staff Sgt. Robert Bales is accused of killing 16 Afghans.

Story highlights

  • A 7-year-old girl describes hiding behind her father as he is shot and killed
  • The defense attorney raises discrepancies in the testimony of investigators
  • Army Staff Sgt. Robert Bales is accused of killing 16 Afghan villagers
A 7-year-old Afghan girl testified Sunday that she hid behind her father as he was shot and killed during a shooting rampage in southern Afghanistan that U.S. military prosecutors say was carried about by an American soldier.
The girl, identified as Robina, was one of a handful of Afghan children called to testify via satellite during an evidentiary hearing held at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, near Tacoma, Washington to determine whether there is sufficient evidence to support the military's case against Staff Sgt. Robert Bales.
Bales is charged with 16 counts of premeditated murder and six counts of attempted murder in the March 11 predawn attack on two villages in southern Afghanistan's Panjwai district.
The outcome of the Article 32 hearing will determine whether Bales, 39, can be court-martialed or could even face the death penalty.
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Bales' lawyer: Tough case to prove
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Bales has not entered a plea in the case, though his attorneys have said he suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder and sustained a traumatic brain injury during a prior deployment to Iraq.
Robina and another child were called to testify by Bales' attorney, John Henry Brown, who appeared to try to establish discrepancies between their testimonies and those of survivors who took the stand a day earlier.
Robina recounted via satellite from a base in Kandahar province how in the early morning hours a gunman came into her family's compound near Camp Belambay, a small U.S. outpost.
Her father, she said, cursed when he was shot in the legs. Then he was shot in the throat and the chest, she said.
One of the bullets also hit her in the leg.
"I didn't realize I was shot until later," she said.
Another 7-year-old testified she was wounded during the rampage, shot in the head by a man who she described as wearing tan pants and a black t-shirt.
Survivors who took the stand on Saturday described the shooter as an American wearing camouflage pants and a tan t-shirt.
Brown also questioned the testimony of an Army criminal investigator, who interviewed a victim's wife, who said two American soldiers broke into her home during the rampage.
Other witnesses have testified there was only one gunman, and the Army contends Bales acted alone.