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Kandahar Mass Murder Plea Bargain Sentencing Hearing, As Tweeted: Stipulated Panjwai Massacre Facts

This is a record of the second of two evidence hearings in the court-martial of former U.S. Army Staff Sergeant Robert Bales for war crimes in Afghanistan. For context, please see my introduction to this 7-part Storify, linked just below. I recommend viewing this in /slideshow format. -January, 2014


  1. Storify Introduction (Slideshow links: Parts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7)

  2. Tuesday, August 20, 2013, continued (with a jury now seated)

  3. Lead Army prosecutor LTC Joseph "Jay" Morse, not Judge COL Jeffery R. Nance, in fact read aloud to the courtroom the uncontested "stipulated" Panjwai Massacre facts. The reading of the facts took about an hour and a half - while reporters attempted to keep up, via tweets and notes, without benefit of either recording equipment or a copy of the 32-page document. The stipulated facts, at least as reported, seem to contain few new specifics about exactly what Bales did that night, although the grim aftermath of the murders and attempted murders was apparently described, with the help of photos, in gruesome detail. As an example of basic massacre information apparently left unexplained in the stipulated facts, based on media reports from the hearing (which are admittedly, and unavoidably, summaries written in haste): We still don't know exactly when, where, or how SSG Bales first left Camp Belamby that night. And Article 32 testimony about one later entrance and exit by an unidentified soldier or soldiers does not seem to be included in these facts. Yet these stipulated facts are evidently the only specifics about the massacre that the Army required SSG Robert Bales to provide them with his guilty plea, in exchange for the Army dropping its pursuit of the death penalty.
  4. The reading of stipulated facts commences at 12:30 PM PT, with a jury just seated:
  5. Thanks to invaluable (not to mention courageous and generous) on-the-ground reporting assistance from Afghan reporter Mamoon Durrani, as of December, 2012 we were able to map - using GoogleEarth and graphics by Afghan-born multimedia journalist Lela Ahmadzai and 2470media of Germany - the neighborhood of the "Special Forces outpost" of Camp - or Combat Outpost (COP) - Belamby/Belambay:
  6. Notably, the few media reports that attempted to locate Camp Belamby with any precision, when reporting the massacre, misplaced its location by up to 10 miles to the east (placing it much closer to Kandahar city, miles east of the Zangabad village(s) - in the heart of the so-called "Horn of Panjwai," or Zangabad area - that border the rural massacre settlements). This map accurately locates the massacre scene relative to Kandahar city, the Arghandab and Dowry Rivers, and the Registan Desert to its south.