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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

September 2, 2013 at 7:29 AM

Recent military trials of mass murders

Similar cases, different outcomes

In this courtroom sketch, Staff Sgt. Robert Bales, left, appears before Judge Col. Jeffery Nance in a courtroom at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash. on Tuesday, Aug. 20, 2013, during a sentencing hearing in the slayings of 16 civilians killed during pre-dawn raids on two villages on March 11, 2012. Bales was sentenced to life without parole. [AP Photo/Peter Millett]

In this courtroom sketch, Staff Sgt. Robert Bales, left, appears before Judge Col. Jeffery Nance in a courtroom at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash. on Aug. 20 during a sentencing hearing in the slayings of 16 civilians killed during pre-dawn raids on two villages in 2012. Bales was sentenced to life without parole. [AP Photo/Peter Millett]

In this Aug. 23, 2013 file courtroom sketch, U.S. Army Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan is shown as the guilty verdict is read at his court martial, in Fort Hood, Texas. A military jury has sentenced Hasan to death for the 2009 shooting rampage at Fort Hood that killed 13 people and wounded more than 30 others. [AP Photo/Brigitte Woosley]

In this Aug. 23 file courtroom sketch, U.S. Army Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan is shown as the guilty verdict is read at his court martial, in Fort Hood, Texas. A military jury has sentenced Hasan to death for the 2009 shooting rampage at Fort Hood that killed 13 people and wounded more than 30 others. [AP Photo/Brigitte Woosley]

If a Muslim (Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan) kills 13 adults, he is sentenced to death. [“Fort Hood shooter gets death,” News, Aug. 29.]

But if a Christian (Sgt. Robert Bales) kills 16 civilians, some of them children, he is only sentenced to life in prison. [“Afghans decry Bales’ sentence,” page one, Aug. 24.]

True, there are technical reasons for the disparate sentences, such as demanding a trial versus pleading guilty, but these distinctions may be lost on the wider Muslim world.

Charlie Blackman, Seattle

Comments | More in Afghanistan, crime/justice, Foreign policy, Politics | Topics: Afghanistan, christian, fort hood

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