‘Illegal war’ provoked US army base rampage, shooter says

‘Illegal war’ provoked US army base rampage, shooter says
Nidal Hasan, charged with killing 13 people and wounding 31 in a November 2009 shooting spree at Fort Hood, Texas, is pictured in an undated Bell County Sheriff's Office photograph. Photo: Reuters/Bell County Sheriff's Office
Major Nidal Hasan tells judge that US war in Afghanistan was ‘adequate provocation’ for his killing 13 people in Fort Hood shooting spree
Published: 8:49 AM, August 22, 2013
Updated: 4:00 AM, August 23, 2013
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FORT HOOD (Texas) — The United States soldier on trial for the deadly 2009 shooting rampage at Fort Hood rested his case yesterday (Aug 21) without calling a single witness or testifying in his defence, but he later told the judge that the attack was motived by American soldiers deploying to “engage in an illegal war”.

Major Nidal Hasan could face the death penalty if convicted for the attack that killed 13 people and wounded more than 30 others at the Texas military base. But when given the chance to rebut prosecutors’ lengthy case — which included nearly 90 witnesses and hundreds of pieces of evidence — the Army psychiatrist declined.

Prosecutors rested their case on Tuesday. About five minutes after court began yesterday, the judge asked Hasan how he wanted to proceed. He answered: “The defence rests.”

But after jurors were dismissed, Hasan told the judge, Col Tara Osborn, that the jury shouldn’t have the option of convicting him on the lesser charge of voluntary manslaughter.

“I would like to agree with the prosecution that it wasn’t done under the heat of sudden passion,” Hasan said. “There was adequate provocation — that these were deploying soldiers that were going to engage in an illegal war.”

Prosecutors had no objection.

“There’s not a shred of evidence to suggest the accused was acting under a heat of passion as he was committing the single largest mass murder on a US military installation ever,” Col Steve Henricks, one of the prosecutors, told the judge.

The exchange came during a late-afternoon hearing, hours after Col Osborn adjourned jurors for the day. Closing arguments are scheduled to begin today in the court-martial, the military’s equivalent of a trial, though it’s unclear whether Hasan plans to say anything.

So far, Hasan has made no attempt to prove his innocence. He has questioned just three witnesses and made few objections. The only piece of evidence he submitted was a favourable evaluation he received from a former supervisor a few days before the attack.

Before the trial began, the judge had barred Hasan from arguing that the killings were in defence of Taliban fighters in Afghanistan. Since then, the military defence attorneys ordered to help Hasan during the trial have accused him of trying to secure himself a death sentence, though Hasan denies those claims.

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