The United States Army continues to investigate the tragic killing of 16 Afghan civilians in Kandahar, the Pentagon has said but remained unclear as to when the suspected American soldier would be charged.
There is no timeline in such cases, that it could take days or weeks to prepare charges, a spokesman for the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation-led force in Afghanistan, Navy Capt John Kirby, told reporters during an off camera news conference.
"It is a crime being investigated by the US Army's Criminal Investigation Division. They will finish their work and they will forward their findings to the chain of command, who would then make judicial processes decisions," Kirby said.
The report would finally come to General John Allen, Commander of US and NATO forces in Afghanistan after which the judicial processes would be decided. The investigators, he said, continue to interview a range of individuals, both on the American and the Afghan side.
"I do not know what specific things they are looking for. We are still gathering facts, talking to people," he said, adding that the investigators are working closely with the Afghan authorities and local villagers.
Insisting that the name of the American soldier, currently under arrest, would not be released unless he is charged, Kirby said suspect was still in Afghanistan.
"I am not going to talk about his specific location, but I can tell you that he is still in Afghanistan," he said.
Kirby said that the notion that there is a "great breach of trust" between us and our Afghan partners is simply wrong. It's not true. It's not what you see when you go out in the field and on the ground with these guys every day, he said.
The perpetrator, if found guilty, would be held accountable to the full count of US laws, he said.
"But it's not just fair or right, not just to us, but to our Afghan partners to extrapolate some greater meaning to this, to the larger effort," Kirby said.
Responding to questions, Kirby said it's their initial understanding at this point that there was search put on for the suspect, he returned to the outpost before being found and there he was apprehended by the US authorities at the outpost.
At the same time, he cautioned that these facts could change as the investigation proceeds. "No idea about his motivation right now," he said when asked what was the motive behind such a killing.