Nine Afghan villagers brought over to testify against Staff Sergeant Robert Bales are giving new details about his shooting rampage and their disappointment at the sentence Bales received. The group included victims and the loved ones of those killed in the massacre last year.
Bales will spend the rest of his life in prison, but those villagers say they’re heading home feeling disappointed. They came here hungry for justice and haunted by memories of what happened and everything they lost.
“He broke into our house at midnight and found us unarmed, so there was nothing we could do” Mullah Baran said. Baran’s brother, Muhammad Daud, was killed in the massacre.
“We have faced a traumatic situation and our children are still facing the trauma,” Baran explained. Baran says they struggle to sleep at night and run away in fear when soldiers approach. “When they see American forces on the street they run back and they acknowledge to the entire family that the Americans are back with their pistols and they'll do the same thing,” he said.
The group came knowing that a plea agreement meant Bales wouldn't receive the death penalty but it doesn't make it any easier. Local Afghan Rizwan Samad says the death penalty is the only sentence that the group felt was just. “Life for life” Samad explained. “He’s a terrorist; he terrorized the people” Samad said.
In the next few days, the group will head home with their scars but without the one thing they wanted most, justice. “We were here to see justice served” Baran said.