US soldiers guard a military base near the shootings in Panjwayi, Afghanistan
4:11am UK, Friday March 16, 2012
The US soldier accused of shooting dead 16 Afghan civilians had been injured twice in Iraq and doubted his physical fitness for duty, his lawyer has said.
The unnamed staff sergeant, from Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington state, had suffered a serious leg injury and a concussive head injury while posted in Iraq.
The 38-year-old had served three tours in Iraq before going to Afghanistan in December last year.
US defence attorney John Henry Browne said his client was reluctant to leave for his fourth overseas deployment.
“He wasn’t thrilled about going on another deployment. He was told he wasn’t going back, and then he was told he was going.”
Mr Browne dismissed suggestions that the soldier, who had trained as a sniper, had been suffering any marital problems or had alcohol problems.
The shootings have sparked outrage in Afghanistan
He said he had a limited amount of information about his client but described him as “highly decorated”.
Mr Browne – who represented US serial killer Ted Bundy and Colton Harris-Moore, the so-called “Barefoot Bandit” – revealed that charges against his client would be filed “probably not sooner than a few weeks”.
It is not known where the soldier – currently being held at a base in Kuwait – will be tried under US military law.
Mr Browne said he had been chosen by the soldier to represent him and had already talked with his new client.
The soldier is suspected of going on a shooting rampage in villages near his base in southern Afghanistan on Sunday, killing nine children and seven other civilians.
US officials have anonymously described him as a father of two who has served in the military for 11 years.