Sgt. Robert Bales, the U.S. soldier who in June pleaded guilty to killing 16 Afghan civilians, including women and children, apologized on Thursday for the massacre calling it an "act of cowardice," reports said.
Bales, 40, apologized to the victims’ families, his family and to his army colleagues, and said that he conducted the March 2012 late-night attack "behind a mask of fear, bulls**t and bravado," Associated Press reported.
"I'm truly, truly sorry to those people whose families got taken away," he said, according to AP. "I can't comprehend their loss. I think about it every time I look at my kids," he said, adding that he hoped his words would be translated for the nine villagers who traveled from Afghanistan to testify against him.
Earlier this week, prosecutors had recorded the testimony of Mohammad Wazir, a villager who lost 11 family members, including his mother, wife and six of his seven children, when Bales left his outpost at Camp Belambay, in Kandahar province, and attacked two villages on his own.
"If someone loses one child, you can imagine how devastated their life would be," Wazir said, according to ABC News. "If anybody speaks to me about the incident ... I feel the same, like it's happening right now."
Bales, a father of two from Lake Tapps, Wash., pleaded guilty to the killings in June to avoid the death penalty in exchange for a life sentence. The defense and prosecution are expected to offer their closing arguments on Friday, following which a military jury will decide if Bales is eligible for parole.
According to AP, Bales appeared emotional while making these statements, where he said apologizing will not excuse the mistakes he committed.
"I love the Army, I've stood next to some really good guys, some real heroes," he said, according to AP. "I can't say I'm sorry to those guys enough. Nothing makes it right. So many times before I've asked myself. I don't know why. Sorry just isn't good enough. I'm sorry."
Keerthi Mohan is an IBTimes reporter covering entertainment and human interest stories.