Afghan Massacre Suspect Sgt Bales Meets Lawyer

A lawyer for the US soldier accused of killing 16 Afghan civilians in their homes has met the suspect at a US army prison for the first time.

Staff Sgt. Robert Bales (L) during a training exercise in Fort Irwin, California in 2011.

A lawyer for the US soldier accused of killing 16 Afghan civilians in their homes has met the suspect at a US army prison for the first time.

John Henry Browne said his three-hour meeting with Staff Sgt Robert Bales at Fort Leavenworth was "emotional".

The killings have undermined US relations with Kabul and called into question the Nato timetable for pulling troops out of Afghanistan.

Sgt Bales, 38, is being held in solitary confinement pending charges.

He arrived at the military detention centre in Kansas on Friday after being flown from Kuwait, the US Army said. Formal charges are expected within the week.

Sgt Bales is the only known suspect in the killings - despite repeated Afghan assertions that more than one American was involved.

"What's going on on the ground in Afghanistan, you read about it, I read about it, but it's totally different when you hear about it from somebody who's been there," Mr Browne told the Associated Press.

Sgt Bales' defence lawyer said he expected to meet him again during Monday afternoon.

Mr Browne has represented a number of high-profile clients including serial killer Ted Bundy and a teenage thief known as the Barefoot Bandit.

In a statement on Saturday, Mr Browne's team said "it is too early to determine what factors may have played into this incident".

The sergeant's past brushes with the law included charges for assault and fleeing a car accident.

Sgt Bales paid fines in both cases and had to attend anger management classes for the assault, after which the charges were dropped.

Mr Browne has suggested his client was not fit to serve because of injuries he had suffered on previous tours of duty.

The Pentagon has previously said that Sgt Bales could face charges that carry a possible death penalty.

Such a trial could take years, contrasting with Afghan demands for swift and decisive justice.

The Taliban called off peace talks in the wake of the deadly rampage - in which men, women and children were shot and killed at close range.