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Afghans find hope for justice in video testimony
Robina’s friend Zardana, 8, sipped from a pink juice box before she testified. She suffered a gunshot wound to the top of her head, but after two months at a military hospital in Afghanistan and three more at a Navy hospital in San Diego, she can walk and talk again.
Zardana’s brother, Quadratullah, recalled that he and others scrambled when the gunman attacked, yelling “We are children! We are children!” The man fired anyway.
Afghan witnesses recounted the villagers who lived in the attacked compounds and listed the names of those killed. The bodies were buried quickly under Islamic custom, and no forensic evidence was available to prove the number of victims.
None of the Afghan witnesses were able to identify Bales as the shooter, but other evidence, including tests of the blood on his clothes, implicated him, according to testimony from a DNA expert.
Bales sat quietly throughout, betraying no reaction to what he heard. Sometimes he watched testimony on a large monitor in the courtroom, and other times he lowered his head and watched on a laptop computer in front of him.
Bales, 39, an Ohio native and father of two from Lake Tapps, Washington, has not entered a plea and was not expected to testify at the preliminary hearing. His attorneys have not discussed the evidence, but say he has post-traumatic stress disorder and suffered a concussive head injury while serving in Iraq.
During cross-examination of several witnesses, Bales‘ attorney John Henry Browne sought to elicit testimony about whether there might have been more than one shooter.
“There’s no way it was one person,” Maj. Khudai Dad, chief of criminal techniques with the Afghan Uniform Police, opined Sunday night.
But Dad offered no evidence to support his speculation, and the vast majority of other testimony pointed to there being a single gunman. A video taken from a surveillance blimp also captured a sole figure returning to the base.
It wasn’t immediately clear how soon any court-martial might be held. But if and when it is, military prosecutors say, the Afghan witnesses won’t have to testify through a screen any more. It will be face to face.
• Associated Press writer Mirwais Khan in Kandahar contributed to this report.
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