The Kandahar Massacre: Chronology

Fri, August 23, 2013

U.S. Staff Sergeant Robert Bales, receives life sentence without parole at Joint Base Lewis-McChord near Seattle.

Mon, August 19, 2013

Beginning of the sentencing phase of the Bales court-martial. A possible life sentence with parole would allow Sgt. Bales to be considered for release after 10 years in prison.

For more details on the sentencing hearing, we recommend Debating Chambers' storify.

Wed, August 14, 2013

Judge Jeffery R. Nance denies a motion of the Bales defense to dismiss several Army prosecutors who had read confidential statements Bales had made to Army doctors during a sanity review earlier this year. Nance himself had inadvertently sent the document to the prosecutors.

June/July 2013

A Food and Drug Administration (FDA) adverse-event report from March 2012 emerges, mentioning a soldier-patient in the U.S. Army who "developed homicidal behavior and led to homicide killing 17 Afghanis" after taking the controversial anti-malaria drug mefloquine. Bales' name is not mentioned in the report. Experts state that while mefloquine could have contributed to Bales' behaviour and should not have been given to him after the traumatic brain injury he had suffered, it is highly unlikely to have been the sole cause for his killing spree.

Wed, June 5, 2013

Sgt. Bales himself pleads guilty to the 16 murders and 6 attempted murders of last years' Kandahar massacre in a deal to avoid the death penalty. A life sentence with parole would allow him to be considered for release after 10 years in prison. The sentencing phase of the Bales court-martial is now scheduled for August.

Doubts remain whether Bales alone is responsible for what happened that night in March 2012, as the survivors and witnesses were not were not invited to testify in the court-martial. Some of them had testified earlier that they had seen or heard more than one soldier (see below).

For more details on the June 5 plea hearing, we recommend Hal Bernton's article for the Seattle Times.

Wed, May 29, 2013

In an interview with AP's Gene Johnson, Sgt. Bales' attorney surprisingly announces that Bales himself will plea guilty in a deal to avoid the death penalty. The plea hearing is scheduled for June 5, 2013, at Joint Base Lewis-McChord south of Seattle.

Sun, March 17, 2013

According to KTLA and various other media, Sgt. Bales is expected to undergo a court-ordered review of his sanity. The review by Army doctors will start Sunday and could last three to seven days, his attorney John Henry Browne said.

Sat, March 2, 2013

Six male family members of the victims- including two eyewitnesses of the attack - travel to the United States to meet with the lawyers for the prosecution and the accused, and to see the facilities where they may later give testimony in advance of the upcoming court-martial against Staff Sgt. Bales.

Thu, January 17, 2013

Staff Sgt. Robert Bales is formally arraigned at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington state, but declines to state a plea at this time. Defense counsel ask for a trial date in May, 2014, Army prosecutors ask for a trial date in June, 2013. Judge Colonel Jeffery R. Nance rules that the trial will occur later than June.

Thu, January 17, 2013

Associated Press publishes the names of all 22 Panjwai victims as listed on the official Army Charge Sheet. The Army's list of 16 dead and 6 wounded does not match the names on the March, 2012 Al Jazeera list.

Mon, November 5 through Tue, November 13, 2012

After several postponements, the preliminary hearing for Staff Sgt. Bales, mandated by Article 32 of the U.S. Code of Military Justice, is held at a military base in Washington state. Eleven family members of the victims - including 6 children and 1 adult who witnessed the attacks - testify by live video link from Kandahar city. Neither of two known adult eyewitness widows, nor any other adult female, testifies.

Tues, September 25, 2012

Habibullah, eyewitness of the attack and son of wounded victim Haji Mohammad Naim of Alkozai, is killed by a NATO airstrike.

Thus, two potential court-martial trial witnesses are dead. Both men had attended the March 16 Kabul meeting with President Karzai.

Sat, June 30, 2012

A Najiban resident named Agha Lala (40-50), who was quoted by Reuters as witnessing multiple soldiers near the Mohammad Wazir home that night, dies in a car accident.

around Mon, April 2, 2012

U.S. Army investigators visit massacre locations to collect evidence for the first time - three weeks after the attack.

Sat, March 24, 2012

The U.S. government reportedly pays surviving family members $50,000 for each person killed, and $11,000 for each person wounded.

Mon, March 19, 2012

Afghan Al Jazeera reporter Qais Azimy publishes an unsourced list naming 16 Panjwai dead and 6 wounded.

Fri, March 16, 2012

Five family members of the victims (including one eyewitness to the attack) meet and speak publicly with Afghan President Karzai in Kabul.

Wed, March 14, 2012

Bales is flown to a military detention facility in Kuwait and transferred to pre-trial confinement in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, in an Army cargo plane two days later.

Sun, March 11, 2012

U.S. Army Staff Sergeant Robert Bales is apprehended by fellow soldiers upon his return to Camp Belambay at 4:36 AM. Reports about wounded Afghan civilians arriving at Zangabad, another Army base nearby, had reached the base. Towards noon, the Army flies SSG Bales to NATO's Kandahar Airfield military base.