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Killings suspect 'recalls little'

A US Army Staff Sergeant accused of slaughtering 16 Afghan civilians in a night-time shooting spree remembers little about the incident, his lawyer has said.

Robert Bales has a sketchy memory of events from before and after the killings, but recalls very little or nothing of his alleged shooting rampage through two Afghan villages, lawyer John Henry Browne said after meeting his client for the first time.

Mr Browne and other members of Bales's defence team have said they plan additional meetings this week with the soldier, who is being held at Fort Leavenworth in Kansas.

Meanwhile, more details have come to light about the solder's problems at home.

Records show he owes 1.5 million dollars from an arbitration ruling nearly a decade ago which found him guilty of securities fraud. The ruling stemmed from a complaint by a man from Columbus, Ohio, that Bales defrauded him and his wife while working as their stockbroker in 2003.

Bales, 38, has not yet been charged over the March 11 shooting spree, though charges could come this week. The killings sparked protests in Afghanistan, endangered relations between the two countries and threatened American policy over the decade-old war.

Mr Browne met his client behind bars for the first time to begin building a defence.

"He has some memories of before the incident and he has some memories of after the incident. In between, very little," Mr Browne said. Pressed on whether Bales can remember anything about the shooting, the lawyer said "No", but added: "I haven't gotten that far with him yet."

Bales arrived at Fort Leavenworth last Friday and is being held in an isolated cell. He is "already being integrated into the normal pre-trial confinement routine", prison spokeswoman Rebecca Steed said.

The routine includes recreation, meals and cleaning the area where he is living. Ms Steed said that, once his meetings with his lawyers are complete later in the week, Bales will resume the normal integration process.

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