Monday, December 18, 2017

Afghan children testify against soldier

JOINT BASE LEWIS-McCHORD, Wash. — Looking gravely across a courtroom in Afghanistan, 7-year-old Zardana raised her hand late Saturday night and swore to testify truthfully about the night a man who prosecutors say was a U.S. soldier shot her in the head, shot her brother in the leg and killed her grandmother.

"Yes I do, and I'm not going to lie," Zardana said as her image was beamed by video to another courtroom in Washington state, where U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Robert Bales is charged with 16 counts of murder.

Alternately grave and smiling while sitting at the witness table next to an interpreter, Zardana was only asked to testify about what color T-shirt her attacker was wearing during the pre-dawn attack March 11 in the village of Alkozai.

"He was wearing pants like this color," Zardana said, pointing to the interpreter's khaki shirt, "and also a T-shirt like you're wearing," nodding toward defense lawyer John Henry Browne's black T-shirt.

Even that brief testimony was an accomplishment: Doctors at a remote U.S. Army post near Kandahar, seeing pieces of brain in her hair after the shootings, had given her up as hopeless. They turned to other, less injured patients. Then when they were finished, they discovered that the little girl was, against all odds, still breathing.

Zardana spent three months in a U.S. Navy hospital in San Diego over the summer. "The first time I saw her, I wasn't sure she was going to live," her father, Samiullah testified Saturday. "The only thing she was doing was opening her eyes."

But in the U.S., he said, she underwent successful medical treatment. "They tried their best and they helped a lot. She's better now."

Zardana was followed at Saturday's military pre-trial hearing by three other young survivors of the shootings: Robina, also 7; Hekmatullah "Khan" Gul, 10; and Rafiullah, who is in his mid-teens.

All three calmly gave detailed accounts of how their relatives were felled by gunfire as Bales, a 39-year-old veteran of four combat deployments, stared at the video screen without expression.

The Saturday hearing at Joint Base Lewis-McChord is meant to help determine whether Bales will face a court-martial. He could face the death penalty if he is convicted.

Comments
The Falcons blew a 28-3 lead, but so did the Bucs

The Falcons blew a 28-3 lead, but so did the Bucs

The Falcons blew a 28-3 lead in last season's Super Bowl, and no one will let them forget it.Including the Bucs.During a playful exchange on Twitter in May, Tampa Bay trolled its division rivals by posting a photo of Vernon Hargreaves, No. 28, and Ja...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Bucs Ring of Honor: Which current player will make it?

Bucs Ring of Honor: Which current player will make it?

With Jon Gruden becoming the 11th member of the Bucs’ Ring of Honor tonight, what about current members of the Bucs?Bucs roundtable question: What current Bucs player not named Gerald McCoy is most likely to wind up in the Ring of Honor. Member...
Updated: 4 hours ago
What to watch this week: Holiday movies galore with ‘Miracle on 34th Street,’ ‘Scrooged,’ ‘A Charlie Brown Christmas’

What to watch this week: Holiday movies galore with ‘Miracle on 34th Street,’ ‘Scrooged,’ ‘A Charlie Brown Christmas’

There's only one week left until Christmas. By now, we hope you're finishing up shopping and preparing to hunker down in front of the tree and TV for a wrapping spree. Don't worry, there's plenty of holiday movies and specials to keep your mind off a...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Florida Department of Education posts proposed Schools of Hope rules

Florida Department of Education posts proposed Schools of Hope rules

Aiming to jump start the a controversial new charter school system for the fall, the Florida Department of Education has unveiled proposed rules for potential Schools of Hope operators to follow.The recommended rule, which is slated for Jan. 17 State...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Brian Wilson coming to Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater

Brian Wilson coming to Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater

Brian Wilson is a genius, okay? If he wants to extend his Pet Sounds 50th anniversary tour so far that it loops back around to some of the same markets more than once, let him do it.The visionary singer-songwriter behind the Beach Boys has exten...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Charlie Puth coming to the MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre in Tampa

Charlie Puth coming to the MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre in Tampa

Did you miss Charlie Puth at Saturday's 93.3-FLZ Jingle Ball in Tampa? Well, you won't have to wait too much longer to — say it with us now — see him again.The singer-songwriter behind hit singles See You Again and Attention is heading ou...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Although Florida juvenile justice said it would weed out bad hires, somehow this guy slipped through

Although Florida juvenile justice said it would weed out bad hires, somehow this guy slipped through

The Miami Herald's Carol Marbin Miller continues her investigation into Florida's broken juvenile justice system:It took just two months for Chris W. Jeffries to get into trouble at his new job as a counselor for delinquent teens with drug or behavio...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Photo of the Day for December 18, 2017

Photo of the Day for December 18, 2017

Today’s Photo of the Day comes from Brad Prevatt of Wimauma, FL.To download or order reprints of this and other Photo of the Day images, please see our Photo of the Day gallery.Check out the Photo of the Day post for December 14, 2017.Send us y...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Assisted living group challenges generator rule

Assisted living group challenges generator rule

A statewide long-term care association has challenged a proposal by Gov. Rick Scott's administration to make permanent a controversial rule that requires assisted-living facilities to have generators and enough fuel to provide 96 hours of backup powe...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Bucs defense vs. Matt Ryan: What to expect tonight

Bucs defense vs. Matt Ryan: What to expect tonight

Atlanta and Matt Ryan are in town to face the Bucs on Monday Night Football, so it's a chance to revisit a quarterback Tampa Bay knows well, with 19 meetings over the past 10 seasons. A couple of talking points for tonight's game and the challenge ah...
Updated: 3 hours ago