Afghan massacre victim takes stand, curses gunman
An Afghan farmer shot during a massacre in Kandahar province last year took the witness stand yesterday against the U.S. soldier who attacked his village, cursing him before breaking down and pleading with the prosecutor not to ask him any more questions.
Haji Mohammad Naim appeared yesterday in the courtroom at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., south of Seattle, where a sentencing hearing began for Staff Sgt. Robert Bales in the slayings of 16 civilians killed during pre-dawn raids on two villages March 11, 2012. The hearing afforded some victims and relatives their first chance to confront Bales face-to-face.
Haji Mohammad Naim testified in his native Pashto through an interpreter, speaking loudly and quickly, and frequently waving a finger in the air. He pointed to where he was shot in the cheek and neck.
“This bastard stood right in front of me!” he said. “I wanted to ask him, ‘What did I do? What have I done to you?’. . . And he shot me!”
Bales pleaded guilty in June to avoid the death penalty. Now the six jurors must decide whether he is sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole or without it.
Among the other victims who testified was a man known as Samiullah, whose son, Rafiullah, was shot in both legs. His daughter, Zardana, survived after being shot in the head.
Earlier, prosecutor Lt. Col. Jay Morse told the jury that Bales felt “inadequate as a soldier and as a man” when he left his remote post in Afghanistan in the middle of the night and attacked the villages, gunning down men, children and women.