U.S. Soldier’s Lawyer Says Access Denied to Evidence
Published: March 3. 2012
“We were expecting a lot more cooperation,” Sergeant Bales’s lead lawyer, John Henry Browne, said during a news conference in Seattle on Friday.
The complaints are expected to be just the first of many disputes over evidence in what experts predict will be an extremely complicated case for both defense and prosecution, given the location of the crime scene in a war zone and the possible hostility of witnesses to lawyers from both sides.
Mr. Browne said that after members of his team were prevented from interviewing survivors of the attacks at a hospital, prosecutors interviewed those witnesses the following day. The witnesses were then released, leaving no contact information. “They could just disappear into the countryside,” Mr. Browne said.
He also said that the team was not given access to health records for the wounded civilians or surveillance video that purportedly shows Sergeant Bales returning to his combat outpost after the killings.
The United States was the only Western democracy that executed prisoners last year, even as an increasing number of U.S. states are moving to abolish the death penalty, Amnesty International announced Monday.
“I don’t know about the evidence in this case. I don’t know that the government is going to prove much. There’s no forensic evidence. There’s no confessions. … I’m certainly not saying that we’re not taking responsibility for this in the right way, at the right time. But for now, I’m interested in what the evidence is. It’s not like a crime scene in the United States.”
SSG Bales was quickly taken into custody and placed in pretrial confinement. As such, general speedy clock timelines have commenced. However, still unanswered is whether he will remain in pretrial confinement or be returned to the confinement facility at his home base unit at Fort Lewis. No doubt, the Defense would prefer that the client-defendant be closer to them.
Additionally, national media is reporting that charges have not yet even been preferred. That seems odd since the provisions of Article 10, UCMJ, and RCM 405 governing review of pretrial confinement have already been triggered. As such – there are a lot of unanswered questions on even basis procedural matters.
The legal expert, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the case, also said that U.S. officials were discussing the best way to compensate the relatives of the victims and those wounded.