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Fort Hood shooting suspect may face death penalty

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2011-07-06

The US Army psychiatrist, Nidal Hasan (pictured), charged with killing 13 people after a shooting rampage at the Fort Hood army base in Texas could face the death penalty if convicted, it was reported Wednesday.

AFP - A US Army psychiatrist charged with the Fort Hood shooting rampage will face a military trial and a potential death sentence if he is found guilty, a top general said Wednesday.

The case of Major Nidal Hasan, accused of opening fire at the Texas army base on November 5, 2009, has been approved for a court-martial that will "consider death as an authorized punishment," said Lieutenant General Donald Campbell, the commander at Fort Hood.

The Fort Hood attack killed 12 soldiers and a civilian, and left another 32 people wounded.

Hasan, a US Army psychiatrist at the time, was shot by police who tried to halt the carnage, and he was paralyzed from the neck down.

Campbell decided to convene a court-martial after considering "all matters submitted by defense counsel" and the recommendations of an investigating officer, he said in a statement.

A military judge will now be assigned to the case and a trial date will be set, it said.

Hasan will first be asked to appear for an arraignment hearing, and he "is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in a court of law," it added.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation has alleged Hasan had contacts with a firebrand Islamic cleric in Yemen, Anwar al-Awlaqi, who US officials see as posing a grave threat to the United States.

Hasan, who was born in Virginia to Palestinian parents and raised in the state, had attended a mosque in 2001 where Awlaqi worked.

Prior to the rampage, Hasan also voiced doubts over the role of Muslim soldiers in the US military, according to military officers.

In January, a panel of medical experts, known as a "sanity board," ruled that Hasan was sane and fit for trial.

The shooting jolted the American military and prompted calls for stronger safeguards against possible internal security threats and "homegrown" terror attacks.

US lawmakers have criticized the Pentagon over how Hasan's case was handled and charged that warning signs were ignored.

Two lawmakers in February issued a report saying the government failed to grasp the suspect's growing Islamist extremism.

Senate Homeland Security Committee Chairman Joe Lieberman, an independent, and the panel's top Republican, Senator Susan Collins, rebuked the Pentagon and the FBI for failing to take action after colleagues branded Hasan "a ticking time bomb."


Date created : 2011-07-06