'We wanted him dead,' say Afghans as US soldier jailed
By Jenny DeRaspe-Bolles ,AFPJOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD Washington -- Afghan villagers whose lives were ripped apart by the bloody rampage of U.S. Army sergeant Robert Bales vented their anger after he was jailed for life on Friday, saying they would have preferred to have seen him executed.
August 25, 2013, 12:03 am TWN
A total of nine Afghans were flown to the Joint Base Lewis-McChord military installation in Washington state to be present as Bales was sentenced for the cold-blooded murder of 16 people in March last year.
But while the military jury passed the stiffest available sentence, it was of little comfort to Afghan survivors and relatives of those slain, many of whom believed Bales should have been executed.
Haji Wazeer, who saw 11 members of his family killed by Bales, led the calls for the soldier to have been put to death.
“We were brought all the way here from Afghanistan to see if justice would be served but not in our way,” he said.
“Justice was served the American way, their way. We wanted this murderer to be executed but we didn't get our wish.
“We came all the way to the U.S. to get justice. We didn't get that. He is not crazy, he's a murderer.
“He only got a life sentence without parole but I'm asking average Americans right here — if somebody jumps in your house in the middle of the night, kills 11 members of your family and tried to burn them, what sort of punishment would you be passing along on that person?”
Haji Mullah Baran's brother was murdered by Bales, and he now cares for his six orphaned children.
“I have a message for Americans: what would you think if someone at three in the morning jumps and kills the members of your family, your brothers, your children or your women?” he said.
“And when you come home and you find out that members of your family have been murdered, executed, their brains are splattered all over the house?
“I'm asking the American people — what would you think of that murderer? What would be your judgment?
“The decision of the sentencing on this gentleman has only satisfied us 5 percent of what we expected or what we wanted it to be.”
Mohammad Haji Naeem, 60, was shot in the face and neck by Bales but survived. He lamented the American military's 12-year involvement in Afghanistan, saying it had failed to rebuild his homeland.
“We were hoping the Americans were actually coming over here to help us rebuild our country. We had higher expectations for Americans but our country has been destroyed rather than being fixed,” he said.
“A few years ago when the Americans used to come, the kids used to run to them. Now when the Americans show up, our kids run away and try to hide.”
Naeem also had little sympathy for Bales' mother, who broke down in tears in court as sentence on her son was passed.
“His mother tried to cry but at least she could go and visit him. What about us? Our family members are actually six feet under and there's no way that we can go and even visit them at all. They're gone,” he said.
“When Americans go to Afghanistan or any other people, try to send the right people, not maniacs and psychos like these.”
Sadiquallah, left, who was shot in the 2012 attack by Staff Sgt. Robert Bales, holds the shoulders of a younger boy named Khan as other Afghan villagers, some who testified earlier ...