Hasan Akbar Sentenced to Death for Attack on Unit
A military jury in Fort Bragg, N.C., has sentenced Sgt. Hasan Akbar to death. Akbar was convicted last week of premeditated murder in a 2003 attack on his unit in Kuwait. Two officers were killed and 14 others wounded.
Click the link for Adam Hochburg’s audio report.
Sergeant Sentenced to Death for Killing Two Officers in Iraq (AP – WaPo, p. A6)
A military jury on Thursday sentenced Sgt. Hasan Akbar to die for the 2003 murders of two officers in a grenade attack at an Army camp in Kuwait during the opening days of the Iraq invasion. The 15-person jury deliberated seven hours after hearing a barely audible and unsworn statement from Akbar, 34, who said he was sorry.
“I want to apologize for the attack that occurred. I felt that my life was in jeopardy, and I had no other options. I also want to ask you for forgiveness,” Akbar told jurors.
Huh? It was cold blooded murder of his own soldiers in a tent.
They chose between sentences of death, life in prison or life without parole. The same jury last week took 2 1/2 hours to convict him of two counts of premeditated murder and three counts of attempted premeditated murder. The sentence will be the subject of an automatic appeal. If Akbar is executed, it would be by lethal injection.
Akbar spoke for less than a minute, making an unsworn statement that could not be cross-examined. He spoke in such a low voice that even prosecutors sitting nearby had trouble hearing, with one lawyer cupping his ear.
Prosecutors have said Akbar launched the attack on members of the 101st Airborne Division in March 2003 at Camp Pennsylvania because he was concerned about U.S. troops killing fellow Muslims in the Iraq war. Although the defense contended Akbar was too mentally ill to plan the attack, they never disputed that it was he who threw grenades into troop tents in the early morning darkness and then fired on soldiers in the ensuing chaos. Army Capt. Christopher Seifert, 27, and Air Force Maj. Gregory Stone, 40, were killed in the attack, and 14 others were wounded.
The court-martial is the first time since the Vietnam era that an American has been prosecuted on charges of murdering a fellow soldier during wartime. Akbar will join five others on the military’s death row at Fort Leavenworth, Kan. The last U.S. military execution was in 1961. Pfc. John A. Bennett of the Army was put to death after his conviction for the rape and murder of an 11-year-old Austrian girl.
Akbar certainly deserves to die for his crimes. There’s not much more despicable an act a soldier could commit than murdering his own comrades in the middle of a war.