TACOMA, Wash - A US soldier accused of killing 16 Afghan villagers in a rampage earlier this year was an outstanding leader who had difficulty sleeping but no signs of post-traumatic stress disorder, his immediate superior testified on Wednesday.
Military prosecutors are seeking the death penalty for Army Staff Sergeant Robert Bales, accusing him of gunning down the villagers - mostly women and children - when he ventured out of his remote camp on two revenge-fueled forays over a five-hour period in March.
In testimony that could hobble any defense that Bales was seriously impaired on the night in question, First Sergeant Vernon Bigham told a pre-trial hearing that Bales had undergone surgery for sleep apnea but did not complain of PTSD, traumatic brain injury or headaches.
Bales, a decorated veteran of four combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, faces 16 counts of premeditated murder and six counts of attempted murder, as well as charges of assault and wrongfully possessing and using steroids and alcohol while deployed.
The shootings in Afghanistan's Kandahar province marked the worst case of civilian slaughter blamed on an individual U.S. soldier since the Vietnam War and damaged already strained US-Afghan relations.