Afghan families who lost relatives in the March 11 rampage in Kandahar province are receiving $46,000 in compensation for each person killed from the US government. Families will also receive $10,000 for each person injured.
US Staff Sgt Robert Bales has been charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder in the killings and is currently being held in solitary confinement in a military prison at Fort Leavenworth in Kansas.
Families were informed about the payouts at a meeting with personnel from the US military and the NATO-led ISAF forces. They were also told that some witnesses will be flown to the US to provide testimony during the trial of Bales; other witnesses will be asked to participate via video link.
Reporting from Kabul, the BBC’s Bilal Sarwary says that such compensation payments are often made in cases of civilians deaths by foreign forces. Monetary compensation is “traditionally offered in Afghanistan in a bid to soften anger among a victim’s family and also as a gesture of good faith and healing.” One tribal elder in Kandahar who was interviewed said that, while the payments have been accepted, they have not forgiven the killer and still “want to see him tried and … punished for his crime.” Some tribes, says Sarwary, refuse such payments and prefer to “take revenge.”
Military investigators say that the killings that Bales has been charged with were carried out in two separate operations. An anonymous US official said that Bales left his base on March 11 and carried out the first set of killings, then returned to the base before leaving a second time and attacking another village; he was then detained when he returned to his base. The US officials said that this reconstruction of events “seems to support the United States government’s assertion that the killings were carried out by one person,” in contrast to claims by Afghans that there was more than one shooter.
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