Killer GI seeks malaria-drug review
WASHINGTON — Army Staff Sgt. Robert Bales has asked an Army court for a special hearing to explore evidence that his massacre of 16 Afghan civilians may have been tied to a malaria drug given to troops that is known to cause hallucinations, anxiety and paranoia.
During a hearing Tuesday at Fort Belvoir, Va., a subject-matter expert for Bales, former Army public health physician Dr. Remington Nevin, submitted affidavits arguing that Bales likely experienced hallucinations and psychosis related to either taking mefloquine, also known by the brand name Lariam, in Afghanistan or previously in Iraq.
The prescription was not considered during the investigation, and his legal team is using this in a request for the U.S. Army Court of Criminal Appeals to review Bales’ life sentence without parole in the killings that took place March 11, 2012, in Kandahar province.
Mefloquine is a malaria treatment medication that was commonly used by the U.S. military as a prophylactic in malaria endemic regions, taken once a week by troops. It has been controversial since its commercial introduction in 1989, as it is known to cause neurological and vestibular problems in a small percentage of users.
Shortly after Bales murdered the Afghan civilians on March 11, 2012, retired Army psychiatrist Col. Elspeth Cameron Ritchie raised questions as to whether Bales had been taking mefloquine during his deployment or on his previous three trips to Iraq. In 2013, Bales pleaded guilty in exchange for dropping the death penalty in his case.