Afghanistan: Charges amended for soldier accused in civilian deaths

The New York Times reports: The Army has amended its charges against Staff Sgt. Robert Bales, the soldier accused of murdering civilians in southern Afghanistan in March, reducing the murder count by one, to 16, and adding charges of illegal steroid use and alcohol consumption.

In its statement accompanying the amended charges, the Army did not explain why it had eliminated one of the murder counts, though it initially reported 16 dead shortly after the killings.

The added charge of alcohol consumption was expected, as military officials had previously said that soldiers on Sergeant Bales’s combat outpost in Kandahar Province reported seeing him drinking the night of the killings.

But the report of steroid use is new. The Army’s new charging sheet said that Sergeant Bales had illegally possessed and used stanozolol, an anabolic steroid commonly used by athletes to build muscle mass.

While anabolic steroids can promote rapid muscle growth, they carry an array of risks, including for higher blood pressure and cancer, and have been linked to psychological changes.

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