U.S. Pays $860,000 to Families of Afghan Victims


The United States handed over a total of $860,000 to the families of those killed or injured in Sgt. Robert Bales' shooting rampage: $50,000 for each person killed, and $10,000 for each person wounded. Col. Gary Kolb, spokesperson for NATO's International Security Force, said the money was to help the victims and their families, and not compensation for Bales' actions.

But some have speculated that the money does, in fact, have a more specific meaning.

It was not immediately clear if the word used to describe the payment had legal significance in Afghanistan, where "blood money" can replace a trial or punishment of a killer.

The Afghan people are still clamoring to have Bales tried in Afghanistan, but military officials have said he will be tried in the U.S. If convicted of the 17 counts of murder he's charged with, Bales could face the death penalty.

There's a chance, however, that Bales' crimes will be impossible to prove, something his lawyer John Henry Browne seems to be counting on. Given the lack of forensic evidence, Browne has said he will make the prosecution prove every claim.

Military law experts acknowledge that proving the case may be difficult, especially given that there are no autopsies to help prove the cause of death — in part because those killed were buried quickly, in accordance with Islamic tradition — and difficulty in getting witnesses to testify.

Bales is currently being held at Fort Leavenworth in Kansas. He may undergo a mental health evaluation to determine if his state of mind will factor into his defense.

[Image via AP]