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Drug's side effects may be blamed for Afghan civilian slayings

military court
Posted at 12:14 PM, Jul 30, 2013
and last updated 2013-07-30 08:26:47-04

SEATTLE (AP) — A lawyer for an American soldier set to be sentenced for killing 16 Afghan civilians may cite a new Food and Drug Administration warning about the psychiatric side effects of an anti-malarial drug used by U.S. troops.

On Monday, the FDA said mefloquine — known as Lariam, its brand name — can cause long-term neurological damage and serious psychiatric side effects.

Attorney John Henry Browne has said he has documents indicating his client, Staff Sgt. Robert Bales, took the drug while in Iraq, but medical records for his time in Afghanistan are incomplete.

Browne told The Seattle Times the FDA warning was an interesting development.

Bales pleaded guilty to the 2012 killings last month. A jury will decide in August whether the soldier is sentenced to life with or without the possibility of parole.