Month: November 2012

Turkey: Death Penalty Politics

November 16, 2012

Under the guidance of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), Turkey completely abolished the death penalty in 2004, one of several reforms enacted with an eye towards meeting the criteria required for joining the European Union. So what to make of the suggestions made recently by the AKP’s leader, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, that Turkey should consider reintroducing capital punishment?

First, the background. Erdogan got the debate going earlier this month when he told an annual gathering of AKP members that, in response to recent upsurge in attacks against Turkish forces by the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), public opinion now supports reintroducing the death penalty. Soon after, Erdogan told a crowd in Ankara, “In the face of deaths, murders, if necessary the death penalty should be brought back to the table (for discussion).” While Turkey’s Minister of Justice has said that there are no plans to bring the death penalty back, the fact that Erdogan — Turkey’s most powerful politician — has brought up the issue, was enough to raise concern among many Turks and some European politicians.

While Erdogan may only be bluffing as a way of looking tough in the face of mounting violence on the Kurdish front, what lies beneath his death penalty talk is worrying. For one, Erdogan’s remarks show that Turkey EU-inspired reform drive is not only fatigued but also in danger of backsliding. Granted, Ankara has few reasons to believe that a membership in the EU is in the cards right now, but AKP leaders have always promised that they would pursue a reform-minded agenda even without a push from Brussels. Erdogan’s talk of bringing back the death penalty raises the question of what other unsavory policies may be brought back to life as the conflict with the Kurds heats up.

The death penalty debate also confirms Erdogan’s move towards the nationalist right as he positions himself for the 2014 presidential elections. Erdogan’s wish to become Turkey’s next president is well known, but it appears that he has decided that talking tough at a time when there is increasing anger among Turks — most of whom are center-right on the political spectrum — about the growing number of PKK attacks is the best way for him to win the presidential election.

Finally, the Prime Minister’s suggestion that capital punishment be reintroduced is another indication that we can expect more trouble, rather than reconciliation, on the Kurdish front. Although some analysts have suggested that Erdogan’s tough talk is being done in order for him to appear strong in the eyes of Turkey’s nationalists, which would give the PM some room to negotiate with the PKK, it appears that his death penalty remarks have only worked to reinforce a sense among Kurds that Ankara is backsliding on the Kurdish issue. In an interviewwith the Bianet website, Necdet Ipekyuz, a Kurdish civil society leader in the southeastern Turkish city of Diyarbakir, offers his view on how the renewed death penalty debate is being viewed by Kurds:

The debate is a source of anxiety for Kurds. It almost turns into a blackmail. If we want peace, we shouldn’t even debate on death penalty.

Most Kurds feel like they might the next person on the row. There shouldn’t be any more executions in this country. We suffered long enough, lost even our prime ministers. When we look back, no one seems to approve these executions now.

PM Erdogan’s speeches are highly influential. This influence isn’t always positive. Politicians should follow common sense.


Pakistan hangs soldier in first execution in four years

November 16, 2012

LAHORE: A soldier convicted of murder was hanged on Thursday in the country’s first execution for four years, officials said.

Mohammad Hussain was condemned to death by a court martial in February 2008 for killing a superior over a personal dispute and was hanged at Mianwali jail after clemency pleas were rejected.

According to rights campaigners there are more than 8,000 prisoners on death row in Pakistan, which has had an unofficial moratorium on executions in recent years, with President Asif Zardari regularly issuing stay orders for condemned prisoners.

“Mohammad Hussain was executed in the presence of military officers,” Farooq Nazeer, chief of prisons in Punjab, said, adding that the army chief had rejected his petition for mercy.

France condemned the execution. “This decision constitutes a step backwards in Pakistan’s move towards greater respect for human rights,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Philippe Lalliot told reporters.

“The death penalty is no less offensive to human dignity and the right to life just because the person to be killed happens to be a soldier,” said Deputy Director of Amnesty International’s Asia-Pacific Programme, Polly Truscott, in a statement.

Civil society concerned over convict’s hanging

Members of civil society and human rights organisations on Thursday expressed concerns over the hanging of a death row prisoner in Mianwali Jail and termed the execution an “inhuman punishment”.

Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) chairperson Zohra Yousuf said HRCP is “deeply shocked by the execution of a prisoner and the fact that the execution has disrupted a four-year movement after the government had vowed its commitment to the right to life and desisted from executing anyone”.

“Hitherto, dates were set for execution of several death penalty convicts in these four years but the grisly punishment was always put off,” Zohra said, adding that they do not know if this time it was an “oversight or the fact that this execution was based on a conviction by a military court”.

The last execution of a death row prisoner in Pakistan before Thursday’s one – in December 2008 – was also based on a military court’s verdict.

The inference is as disturbing as it is obvious, Zohra said.

She said that despite this setback, HRCP still retains the hope that the government will not abandon its pledge to work towards the abolition of death penalty in Pakistan.

“We also appeal to military chiefs to take into account the growing demands worldwide for abolition of death penalty and also take steps to ensure that military courts also show deference to this humanitarian call.”

Saeeda Deip of the Institute for Peace and Secular Studies (IPSS) termed Thursday’s capital punishment to the prisoner “alarming”.

She said that in civilised societies, death sentence to a prisoner is considered inhuman and “even in countries where death sentence is deemed necessary, those ways [of execution] are being adopted that are supposed less painful”.

She said that despite the apparent continuation of an informal moratorium on execution in the country since January 2009, the fresh execution is deplorable.

Farzana Mumtaz of the South Asia Partnership Pakistan (SAP) also criticised the execution, saying it indicates the government has changed its policy.

She said the civil society was to some extent satisfied with the suspension of death punishment to the prisoners in Pakistan but Thursday’s execution has “re-alive the alarming inhuman treatment with the people in Pakistan”.

She demanded that the government immediately suspend such inhuman punishments to give a message to the international community that Pakistan is a civilised country.

The Women Workers Helpline’s Azra Shad also expressed concerns over Thursday’s hanging of a convict in Mianwali.

She said that with the execution of a death row prisoner, it seems that the dictatorial rule has returned to the country.


PAKISTAN – Waiting on death row: Prison data from around the county

november 12, 2012

Pakistan has one of the largest populations of condemned prisoners and inmates on death row in the world – 7,164 according to official prison records, and over 8,000 according to the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan.

Without an official declaration, the Pakistan Peoples Party government stopped all executions after it came to power in 2008, making Pakistan one of 36 countries in the world observing a moratorium on the death penalty.

There was also talk of a legislation to abolish the death penalty and convert it to life imprisonment, spurred on by a broad-based consensus that criminal law in general, and death penalty convictions in particular, are tilted against the accused and the poor are worst-hit by it. Four years later the bill is yet to see the light of day. Reforming a law on which legislation, especially Shariah-based law, already exists appears increasingly tricky.

Government officials are still non-committal, and opposition lawmakers are already responding with a resounding no. As the government’s term nears its end, the death row population waits for a final decision on its fate.

Meanwhile jails, and the number of people on death row, continue to swell as the lower judiciary keeps on awarding death sentences prolifically.


Number of jails:  18

Number of prisoners : 8,450

Number of condemned prisoners: 120

Malik Noor Badshah

Haripur Central Jail

Badshah was sentenced to death by a Rawalpindi ATC for a suicide attack on former Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz in Fateh Jhang Tehsil of Attock district on July 30, 2004. Qari Muhammad Siddique, Salman alias Zaheer and Qari Ahmed were also awarded capital punishment in the same case but they are lodged in other jails of the country.

Niaz Muhammad

Haripur Central Jail

Muhammad is the co-accused in the assassination attempt on former Army chief and president Gen Pervez Musharraf on December 14, 2003 in Rawalpindi. At the time of his arrest, Muhammad was a junior technician in the PAF. Field General Court Martial sentenced Muhammad and his five accomplices to death in October 2005 after a trial spanning a year. The condemned filed an appeal before the Lahore High Court against their conviction which was rejected in March 2006 and another appeal in the Supreme Court was turned down in September 2006. His review petition before the SC was also dismissed in March 2011. Of his accomplices, Adnan Rashid escaped with over 287 inmates from Bannu jail in a daring attack by the TTP in April this year.

Fazal Hamid

Haripur Central Jail

Hamid, an activist of Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, has been convicted for a gun-and-grenade attack on Shah-i-Najaf Imambargah in Rawalpindi on February 26, 2002 that killed 11 worshippers. The police arrested 10 suspects and prosecuted them in Rawalpindi’s ATC. On December 9, 2004 a trial court handed down death sentence to Hamid and his three accomplices, Habibullah, Tahir Mehmood and Hafiz Naseer Ahmed, while Ashraf Ali was jailed for seven years for driving the motorcycle used in the attack.

“When Ziaul Haq was the president of Pakistan I worked as Section Officer (SO) Mercy Petitions, a post which was later abolished. I still remember that in his 11 years tenure he rejected all mercy petitions except one that he turned into life imprisonment. It was his policy”

A government official in the K-P Home Department

“There was no police in Swat in 2010, when they left their stations out of fear; when they came back after nine months, they started arresting people on false intelligence reports”

A government official in the K-P Home Department


Number of jails: 27

Number of prisoners : 14,322

Number of condemned prisoners:  353

Saulat Ali Khan aka Saulat Mirza

Karachi Central Jail

Mirza, belonging to the Muttahida Qaumi Movement, is facing capital punishment for the 1997 murder of Shahid Hamid, a former managing director of KESC. Mirza was arrested in 1998 and sentenced to death by the ATC a year later for killing Hamid, his driver, and his guard. His appeals were rejected by the Sindh High Court in the year 2000, and by the Supreme Court in 2001. A news report last year stated that Mirza’s mercy appeal was with the interior ministry in 2008.

Jail officials, on condition of anonymity, said Mirza enjoys freedom in the jail, and is better off than other prisoners. “Mirza Bhai has his own UPS, a DVD player, and mp3 player,” said an official.

Mirza has also been accused, by former interior minister Zulfiqar Mirza, of running a network of target killers from inside the jail.

Chaudhry Aslam, the police officer who arrested Mirza, said the court’s execution order should be carried out. “His crimes were proved in the court. He should be punished.”

Ahmed Omar Saeed Shaikh

Hyderabad Central Jail

Shaikh, a British national of Pakistani descent, was given the death sentence in 2002 for the murder of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl by the Karachi ATC. At present, the 37-year-old is waiting for the Sindh High Court to take a decision against his appeal.

Educated at the Aitchison College in Lahore and the London School of Economics, Shaikh is said to have fought in Bosnia and Kashmir and later accused of kidnapping foreigners in India.

Aligned with the terrorist group Jaish-e-Mohammad, Shaikh was arrested in Lahore in February 2002, on suspicion of kidnapping Pearl. Three months later, police found Pearl’s body on the outskirts of Karachi and Sheikh confessed to the murder.

Sheikh’s lawyer Rai Bashir told The Express Tribune that the appeal against the death sentence has been adjourned several times because of unavoidable circumstances such as deaths of lawyers and conflicts in dates. “Also, the government does not want it to be heard as the case is weak. Maybe they are thinking of the pressure from the Americans. We want a decision to be taken on it at the earliest.”


Number of jails :  32

Number of prisoners :  52,659

Number of condemned prisoners:  6,604

Manzoor Ahmad

Kasur Jail

Ahmad, confined since 2003 in a murder case, was condemned to death by the Special Judge ATC. The ATC refused to accept forgiveness by the legal heirs of the deceased, a leniency allowed by the law. The court’s rejection was based on the fact that Section 6(2)H of the Anti Terrorism Act was included in the FIR against him, which makes his murder a non-compoundable offence. Both his appeals to the Lahore High Court and to the Supreme Court were rejected. His mercy petition was also dismissed by President Musharraf. Ahmad was to be hanged when the PPP came into power but President Zardari’s general stay on executions has given Ahmad a temporary lease of life.

Ahmad’s brother, Muhammad Akbar, wants to move the Federal Shariat Court to get the ATA sections that make FIRs non-compoundable declared un-Islamic. “When Islam has held murder as a compoundable offence, why is our law not accepting it?” Akbar said.

Aqeel alias Dr Usman

Adiala Jail

Aqeel was convicted by an army court for the attack on the Army’s General Headquarters on October 10, 2009. He was captured by the commandos in an injured state. Aqeel was convicted after five months of proceedings at an undisclosed location. He is also believed to be the mastermind of the attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team in Lahore. His appeal is pending in the military court of appeals.

Mumtaz Qadri

Adiala Jail

Qadri, a police constable, shot at and killed Punjab governor Salman Taseer. His appeal is pending before the Islamabad High Court.


Number of jails   : 11

Number of prisoners :  2,496

Number of condemned prisoners :  87

PUNJAB -On death row: Death penalty stayed no more

November 15,2012


While the last execution in any Pakistani jail took place under former president, General (retd) Pervez Musharraf’s tenure in 2007 and the present PPP-led government kept issuing stay orders against all executions, the trend may have been reversed by the time you read this report in the morning. 

A convicted prisoner was scheduled to be hanged in a jail in Mianwali city, northwest Punjab in the wee hours of Thursday (today), making him the first to be hanged during the PPP’s tenure, The Express Tribune learnt. No stay has been received by the facility that will hang him till late Wednesday night.

The death row prisoner, Muhammad Hussain, a soldier of the army and resident of Langarwala Pul of Sahiwal Tehsil Sargodha District, had killed his senior officer, Havaldar Khadim Hussain in 2008 when they were on leave.

Following this, proceedings to court martial him were initiated and he was tried in the military court in Okara Cantonment , which sentenced him to death on February 12, 2009, Deputy Superintendent (DSP) of Mianwali Jail, Muhammad Mansha told The Express Tribune.

Hussain had subsequently filed mercy petitions to the General Headquarters (GHQ) and the Chief of Army Staff, but they were rejected.

He also filed a mercy petition to President Asif Ali Zardari, but that was rejected too on December 30, 2011, DSP Mansha stated.

The GHQ then assigned the Corps Commander of Sargodha to fix the date of Hussain’s execution, which was set for November 15, 2012 (today).

All arrangements for the execution have been finalised because the jail has not received a stay order from the presidency as yet, DSP Mansha added.

He said Hussain met his relatives for the last time on Wednesday (yesterday).

Inspector General Prisons Punjab, Mian Farooq Nazeer, told The Express Tribune that the entire process regarding the execution is completed by the military officials and they only provide the Phansi Ghat (place of hanging) for the execution.

Nazeer also confirmed that this will be the first execution in the present government’s tenure.

Moratorium on executions not yet decided

There has been a de facto moratorium on executions since the PPP returned to power in 2008. In that year, former premier Yousaf Raza Gilani, in a meeting with Human Rights Watch, agreed to enforce a moratorium on executions and to commute death sentences of prisoners to life imprisonment. However, this has yet to happen.

Petitions for clemency

More than 500 petitions for clemency just for prisoners in Punjab are currently pending before the President, Nazeer revealed.

According to Amnesty International, 313 death sentences were handed out in 2011. But none of those convicted were executed.

According to Rule 101 of the Pakistan Prison Rules, “Every prisoner shall be at liberty to submit a petition to the government for clemency, and shall, if he desires, be accorded reasonable facilities for preparing and submitting such a petition.

Except in the case of a petition against the execution of death sentences, all such petitions must be accompanied by copies of the judgment of the court of conviction and of any superior court which may have dealt with the case on an appeal of reversion .These will be supplied by the petitioner(s) themselves:

Note 1: Once a petition for clemency has been rejected, no second or subsequent petition shall be forwarded to the provincial government for consideration unless there are fresh grounds, which the superintendent shall himself, certify quoting the previous references.

Note 2: While forwarding the petition for clemency of a prisoner, his/her mercy petition role on the prescribed form, along with a report by a medical officer on the present state of health of the prisoner shall also be sent. Any outstanding achievement gained by a prisoner, be it educational, in any industry etc, shall also be brought to the notice of the government.

Note 3: All petitions for clemency shall ordinarily be addressed to the governor of the respective province and shall be routed through the inspector general of prisons.

Rule 104(i): Immediately upon the receipt of intimation of the dismissal by the Supreme Court of his/her appeal, or application for special leave to appeal, or of the breaking down of his application for special leave to appeal, in case the condemned prisoner has made no previous petitions for mercy, the prison superintendent shall inform the condemned prisoner concerned that if he/she desires to submit a petition for mercy, it should be submitted in writing within seven days of the date of such information.

Rule 104(ii): If a condemned prisoner submits a petition within seven days, as prescribed by by Rule 104(i), the prison superintendent shall forthwith dispatch it to the home secretary of the provincial government, together with a covering letter reporting the date fixed for the execution by the sessions judge, and shall certify that the execution has been stayed, pending the receipt of the orders of the provincial government on the petition.

SINGAPORE – Mandatory death penalty no longer imposed for all murder cases

November 14, 2012
SINGAPORE – The mandatory death penalty will not be imposed for all murder cases , under amendments to the Penal Code which were passed in Parliament today. Where the killing is not intentional, the court will now be able to decide if the accused should be given the death sentence or life imprisonment. All existing cases, if eligible, will be considered for re-sentencing under the new law.

Opposition Member of Parliament for Aljunied GRC Sylvia Lim asked if the mandatory death penalty should apply even when there was an intention to kill. As an example, she highlighted the difference between a hired contract killer and an accused who was unable to get over a serious, long-time betrayal of a marriage partner.

Law and Foreign Affairs Minister K Shanmugam responded: “But the fact is even in the latter situation, it is deliberate, cold-blooded, intentional killing. Because if it is not cold-blooded and intentional, if it is on the spur on moment, there is a defence, Ms Lim knows that – if there is provocation. There are other defences as well, self-defence, provocation.” CHANNEL NEWSASIA

TURKEY – Erdogan courts voters with the death penalty

November 14, 2012

Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan has opened a debate about reintroducing the death penalty in Turkey – probably with an eye on the presidential elections in 2014.

According to the Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, it was the “very mild sentencing” of the Norwegian right-wing terrorist Anders Bering Breivik which triggered the initiative. How could it be possible that someone who had murdered 77 people should have to serve only 21 years in prison, Erdogan asked during an early November visit to Indonesia. He pointed out that countries such as the US, Japan and China continue to apply the death penalty – and that Turkey ought to reconsider its stance.

Upon his return to Ankara, Erdogan repeated his statement, causing confusion among both his supporters and the opposition. After all, it was only at the end of October during a visit to Berlin that he todl the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, that Turkey still had a strong interest in becoming a member of the EU. But that would be impossible should Turkey reintroduce the death penalty, as he himself must know.

Attempts of justification

The prime minister’s unexpected comments have forced supporters in the cabinet and his ruling AKP party to try to explain him more or less convincingly. Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said that he had merely been upset about the Breivik case. From within the AKP came the comment that Erdogan’s intention had been to make an appeal to the EU to reconsider whether it was wise to reject the death penalty so completely in the face of the Breivik murders.

Front pages of some Turkish papers on Saturday, Aug. 3, 2002 read: This parliament has written history, Death penaty is lifted--We have escaped hanging, We did not miss Europe train, Europe, we are coming, The ball is in Brussels' court, Thank you. ( AP Photo/Burhan Ozbilici)The press welcomed the abolition of the death penalty in 2002

So far, though, there hasn’t been any attempt to draw up a draft law that would lead to Erdogan’s proposal being put into effect. Minister of Justice Sadullah Ergin told parliament that the abolition of the death in 2002 and the subsequent amendment to the constitution two years later were both the result of an initiative by the Erdogan administration. Ergin said there was currently no work being done in his ministry to change either the law or the constitution back again.

Eyes fixed on nationalist voters

So has Erdogan taken a wrong turn? Most observers in Ankara are sure that the prime minister, who is considered to be a careful strategist, will have brought up the topic for a reason, and Mehmet Bekaroglu, a former member of parliament, thinks he knows what it is. He told the Evrensel newspaper that Erdogan wants the support of right wing nationalist voters in the 2014 presidential elections.

It’s an open secret that the prime minister has aspirations to the presidency. And since most voters in Turkey are center-right, they form the group that is of most relevance to any presidential hopeful. Courting the nationalists, from Erdogan’s view, may therefore be the right thing to do.

Nationalists try to nail Erdogan down

In Turkey, the death penalty is mostly discussed in connection with the jailed Kurdish rebel commander Abdullah Öcalan. Öcalan’s 1999 death sentence was commuted to life imprisonment when the death penalty was abolished in 2002. The nationalist MHP party now says that Erdogan wants to win back the support of those right-wing voters he alienated by supporting peace talks between the state and Öcalan’s PKK rebels. Those talks were suspended in 2011, but, according to Erdogan, they could still be resumed.

In 2002, single members of the MHP opposed the abolishment of the death penalty, but were overruled in parliament.The MHP largely backed Erdogan over the 2002 reform

The MHP now aims to expose Erdogan’s statements as mere tactical maneuvers. The head of the MHP, Devlet Bahceli, has called on the prime minister to come up with a draft law for the death penalty, which his party would then support.

However, it is unlikely that Erdogan will play along with this. He doesn’t seem to be too worried about nationalist accusations of hypocrisy. After all, he can embarrass the MHP by pointing out that Bahceli and his party were part of the ruling coalition which abolished the death penalty in 2002.

Prosecutors want death penalty for U.S. soldier accused in Afghan massacre

Robert Bales accused in killings of 16 Afghan villagers may face court-martial

November 13, 2012

Army prosecutors on Tuesday asked an investigative officer to recommend a death penalty court martial for a U.S. soldier accused of killing 16 Afghan villagers in a pre-dawn rampage, saying that Staff Sgt. Robert Bales committed “heinous and despicable crimes.”

Bales, a father of two from Lake Tapps, Wash., could face the death penalty. The military last executed a service member in 1961, when an army ammunition handler was hanged for raping an 11-year-old girl in Austria.

Prosecutors made their closing arguments after a week of testimony in the preliminary hearing, known as an Article 32. Prosecutors say Bales, 39, slipped away from his remote base at Camp Belambay to attack two villages early on March 11. The 16-person death toll included nine children.

The slayings drew such angry protests that the U.S. temporarily halted combat operations in Afghanistan, and it was three weeks before American investigators could reach the crime scenes.

“Terrible, terrible things happened,” said Maj. Rob Stelle, the prosecutor who delivered closing arguments in the preliminary hearing. “That is clear.”

Stelle cited statements Bales made after he was apprehended, saying that they demonstrated “a clear memory of what he had done, and consciousness of wrongdoing.”

Several soldiers testified that Bales returned to the base alone just before dawn, covered in blood, and that he made incriminating statements such as, “I thought I was doing the right thing.”

Case tests military justice system

The U.S. military justice system’s record has shown it is slow to convict service members of alleged war crimes.

A range of factors make prosecuting troops for civilian deaths in foreign lands difficult, including gathering eyewitness testimony and collecting evidence at a crime scene in the midst of a war.

At Bales’ preliminary hearing, the prosecution accommodated the Afghan witnesses by questioning them via a video link and holding the sessions at night. The military said it intends to fly the witnesses from Afghanistan if there is a court martial.

“I think it shows they’re going to prosecute this case no matter what it takes,” said Greg Rinckey, a former U.S. Army lawyer.

— The Associated Press

An attorney for Bales argued there’s not enough information to move forward with the court martial. “There are a number of questions that have not been answered so far in this investigation,” attorney Emma Scanlan told the investigating officer overseeing the preliminary hearing.

Scanlan said it’s still unknown what Bales’ state of mind was the evening of the killings.

An army criminal investigations specialist had testified last week that Bales tested positive for steroids three days after the killings, and other soldiers testified that Bales had been drinking the evening of the massacre.

“We’ve heard that Sgt. Bales was lucid, coherent and responsive,” Scanlan said in her closing argument. “We don’t know what it means to be on alcohol, steroids and sleeping aids.”

The investigating officer said Tuesday that he would have a written recommendation by the end of the week, but that is just the start of the process. That recommendation goes next to the brigade command, and the ultimate decision would be made by the three-star general on the base. There’s no clear sense of how long that could take before a decision is reached on whether to proceed to a court martial.

Afghan witnesses testified at hearing

Bales faces 16 counts of premeditated murder and six counts of attempted murder. The preliminary hearing, which began Nov. 5, included nighttime sessions on Friday, Saturday and Sunday for the convenience of the Afghan witnesses.

The witnesses included a seven-year-old girl, who described how she hid behind her father when a gunman came to their village that night, how the stranger fired, and how her father died, cursing in pain and anger.

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 did not testify.

PTSD, brain injury concerns

Kari Bales, left, listens as her sister, Stephanie Tandberg, right, reads a statement Tuesday to reporters after the preliminary hearing for Kari's husband, Staff Sgt. Robert Bales.Kari Bales, left, listens as her sister, Stephanie Tandberg, right, reads a statement Tuesday to reporters after the preliminary hearing for Kari’s husband, Staff Sgt. Robert Bales. (Ted S. Warren/Associated Press)

After the hearing concluded, Scanlan spoke with reporters, saying that in addition to questions about Bales’ state of mind, there are still questions of whether there were more people involved.

During testimony, a special agent testified that months after the killings, she was able to interview the wife of one of the victims, who recounted having seen two U.S. soldiers. Later, however, the woman’s brother-in-law, Mullah Baraan, who was not present at the shootings, testified that the woman says there was only one shooter. The woman herself did not testify.

“We need to know if more than one person was outside that wire,” Scanlan said.

Scanlan also raised the issue of post-traumatic stress disorder and brain injury, noting that Bales had received a screening at the traumatic brain injury clinic at Madigan Army Medical Center during a period of time that the center is under investigation for reversing hundreds of PTSD diagnoses of soldiers since 2007.

“We’re in the process of investigating that,” she said.

When asked if Bales had ever been diagnosed with PTSD, Scanlan said, “I’m not going to answer that right now.”

Bales’ wife, Kari, and her sister, Stephanie Tandberg, met with reporters briefly after the hearings concluded. Tandberg read a statement, saying “we all grieve deeply for the Afghani families who lost their loved ones on March 11, but we must all not rush to judgment.”

“We are not convinced the government has shown us the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth about what happened that night,” added Tandberg. “We know Bob as bright, courageous and honorable, as a man who is a good citizen soldier, son, husband, father, uncle and sibling. We and Bob’s family are proud to stand by him.”