UNITED STATES. AKBAR SENTENCED TO DEATH FOR KILLING COMRADES
April 29, 2005: a US military jury sentenced Army Sgt. Hasan Akbar to death for killing two officers in a grenade and rifle attack on his comrades in Kuwait two years ago.
Sgt. Akbar, a former member of the 101st Airborne Division, was found guilty a week ago on two counts of premeditated murder and three counts of attempted premeditated murder after a trial at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.
The trial is subject to review by a high ranking military officer, who could approve the sentence or reduce it, officials said. After that review, the case will be automatically appealed to higher US military courts.
The last time a US soldier faced a court-martial for murdering a comrade in wartime was during the Vietnam War and the last military execution was in 1961.
"Sgt. Hasan Akbar was sentenced to death by a military panel here," Fort Bragg officials said in a written statement.
The charges stemmed from a nighttime attack at Camp Pennsylvania in Kuwait on March 23, 2003, as 101st Airborne soldiers awaited orders to move into Iraq at the start of the war. Akbar was accused of rolling grenades into soldiers' tents and firing a rifle at those who emerged.
Cpt. Christopher Seifert and Maj. Gregory Stone were killed and 14 others were wounded.
Akbar's mother and military lawyers said Akbar snapped in the face of relentless ridicule of his Muslim faith and harassment by fellow soldiers, according to a published report.
Akbar had faced three possible sentences: death, life in prison with the possibility of parole or life without parole. The sentencing hearing began on April 25. (Sources: Reuters, 29/04/2005)