News Column

Nidal Hasan Lawyers Want Out

August 7, 2013

Lawyers assigned to assist accused Fort Hood shooter Major Nidal Hasan in his defence said Wednesday they want to quit amid what they call his efforts to seek a death sentence in the 2009 shooting spree at the US Army post.

The judge stopped proceedings on the second day of Hasan's court martial to hear a motion by three court-appointed lawyers who said they "feel they should not be required to assist a client who seeks the death penalty," Fort Hood spokesman Thomas Rheinlander said in a statement.

Hasan objected to the claim he was seeking the death penalty.

The lawyers had argued Hasan was "effectively acting in concert with prosecutors in achieving a death sentence" after he admitted to the shootings, the Austin American Statesman newspaper said.

"The evidence will clearly show I am the shooter," Hasan said Tuesday at the trial at Fort Hood. "The dead bodies will testify that war is an ugly thing."

He claimed he had been "on the wrong side" of what he called the US war against Islam and decided to switch sides.

Hasan has chosen to represent himself in the case, in which he faces 13 counts of premeditated murder and 32 counts of attempted premeditated murder. The military has assigned him standby counsel to offer legal advice should he request it.

With Hasan acting as his own lawyer, victims called to testify in the case are being put in the unusual position of being questioned by their accused attacker.

Hasan, 42, faces the death penalty if convicted in the shooting spree on November 5, 2009, as soldiers were preparing to deploy to Iraq and Afghanistan. Hasan was shot by police officers during the attack and is paralysed from the waist down as a result.

Hasan had sought to plead guilty, but military legal rules do not allow guilty pleas for charges that carry the death penalty.

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Source: Copyright 2013 dpa Deutsche Presse-Agentur GmbH

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