Massacre accused 'wants execution'

NOMAAN MERCHANT AND MIKE GRACZYK
Last updated 11:23 14/08/2013
Nidal Hasan
ACCUSED: Nidal Hasan

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The US Army psychiatrist on trial for the 2009 shooting rampage at the Fort Hood military base told mental health experts after the attack that he "would still be a martyr" if convicted and executed by the government, according to newly released documents.

The remarks by Major Nidal Hasan in 2010 were published by the New York Times as military attorneys ordered to help him during his trial, which continued on Tuesday (local time) at the Texas base, insist that he wants jurors to sentence him to death.

Hasan told a panel of mental health experts that he wished he had been killed in the attack because it would have meant God had chosen him for martyrdom, according to documents given to the newspaper by Hasan's former lead attorney.

Hasan, an American-born Muslim, was left paralysed from the waist down after Fort Hood police officers ended the rampage by shooting him in the back.

"I'm paraplegic and could be in jail for the rest of my life," Hasan told the panel, according to the documents. "However, if I died by lethal injection, I would still be a martyr."

The documents, part of a report that concluded Hasan was fit to stand trial, were given to the newspaper by John Galligan, who now serves as Hasan's civil attorney after his client dismissed him from the criminal case two years ago. Galligan did not immediately return phone messages Tuesday from The Associated Press

Hasan, 42, is acting as his own attorney but has sat mostly silent as witnesses described a bloody, chaotic scene and identified him as the shooter. That enabled prosecutors to zip through more than 60 witnesses in only four days.

But the pace slowed on Tuesday as prosecutors shifted their focus to forensic evidence, with testimony revealing that FBI agents found so much evidence at the crime scene that they ran out of markers.

FBI Special Agent Susan Martin told jurors that she and other agents found hundreds of pieces of evidence, including 146 shell casings and six magazines, inside the medical building where the shootings took place. She said agents eventually ran out of numeric markers and had to use sticky notes.

In one area, Martin testified, "There were several bodies. ... There was medical equipment all over the floor. It was a pretty gruesome scene."

Kelley Jameson, the military police lead agent for the shooting, gave testimony suggesting a specific reason for the date of the November 5, 2009, attack: Hasan's soon-to-deploy units were due at the crowded building that day.

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Jurors also were shown a video taken during the initial walkthrough of the building, which had been crowded with soldiers preparing to deploy, and some crime scene photos. The photos were not displayed for the entire courtroom, which included journalists and victims' relatives in the gallery.

The judge, Colonel Tara Osborn, also said she was not allowing prosecutors to show anyone the most graphic photos "that focus unnecessarily on the deceased".

Hasan, once again, asked no questions and raised no objections on Tuesday. He was able to see the photos and the video on a monitor at the defence counsel's table, but he appeared to have no visible reaction.

The military attorneys who have been ordered to help Hasan insist that he is intentionally not mounting a defence to ensure himself a death sentence. The standby lawyers have said such a strategy is "repugnant", and they unsuccessfully asked Osborn to either let them take over Hasan's defence or minimise their advisory roles.

Hasan has called those accusations a "twist of the facts", but he has allowed the attorneys to pursue an appeal of the judge's refusal at the Army Court of Criminal Appeals.

The statements he made in 2010, a year after the attack, were contained in a 49-page report of a military panel known as a sanity board, according to the New York Times. That board concluded Hasan was fit to stand trial.

Galligan said army prosecutors were given a summary of the report but had not seen the newly released pages, according to the newspaper. Galligan has previously released other documents at Hasan's request to Fox News.

Hasan told the panel he denied having remorse. He justified his actions by saying that the soldiers he killed were "going against the Islamic Empire", according to the Times.

"I don't think what I did was wrong because it was for the greater cause of helping my Muslim brothers," Hasan told the panel.

- AP

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