Nation

Afghan farmer testifies at massacre trial

JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Washington — An Afghan farmer shot during a massacre in Kandahar province last year took the witness stand Tuesday against the US soldier who attacked his village, cursing him before breaking down and pleading with the prosecutor not to ask him any more questions.

Haji Mohammad Naim appeared Tuesday in the courtroom at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, where a sentencing hearing began for Staff Sergeant Robert Bales in the slayings of 16 civilians killed during predawn raids on two villages on March 11, 2012.

The hearing afforded some victims and relatives their first chance to confront Bales face-to-face.

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With a thick gray beard, a turban, and traditional Afghan dress, Haji Mohammad Naim testified in his native Pashto through an interpreter, speaking loudly and quickly and frequently waving a finger in the air. He pointed to where he was shot in the cheek and neck.

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‘‘This bastard stood right in front of me!’’ he said. ‘‘I wanted to ask him, ‘What did I do? What have I done to you?’ . . . And he shot me!’’

Bales pleaded guilty in June to avoid the death penalty. Now the six jurors must decide whether he is sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole or without it.

Associated Press