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No defence from Fort Hood suspect

22 August 2013, 08:36

Texas - The US soldier on trial for the 2009 shooting rampage at Fort Hood rested his case on Wednesday without calling witnesses, choosing not to challenge the government's case against him in the deadliest mass shooting on a US military base in history.

Nidal Hasan is representing himself but told the judge on Wednesday that he wouldn't be calling anyone in his defence. The trial will resume on Thursday, with prosecutors' closing arguments expected.

Hasan is accused of killing 13 people at the Texas military base. He faces the death penalty if convicted.

Hasan has sat mostly silent during the trial. His court-appointed lawyers say he's trying to get a conviction and death sentence in an attempt at martyrdom.

The US-born Muslim has suggested that he wanted to argue the killings were in defence of Taliban fighters in Afghanistan. A judge rejected that strategy.

Outside his trial, Hasan has been telling reporters his side of the attack, seemingly to justify it as a defence of his faith.

Military prosecutors rested their case on Tuesday against Hasan, who is charged with numerous counts of premeditated murder and attempted premeditated murder.

If convicted, Hasan could face the death penalty, but any death sentence automatically goes to military appeals courts, which have overturned most such sentences they have reviewed.

Prosecution witnesses have described how a lone gunman wearing Army fatigues shouted "Allahu Akbar!" - Arabic for "God is great!" - before drawing a laser-sighted pistol and opening fire inside a medical building at the Army post on 5 November 2009.

The building was crowded with unarmed soldiers, many preparing for deployments to Afghanistan.

Hasan was about to be deployed there as well.

He began the trial by telling jurors that evidence would show he was the gunman but that it wouldn't tell the whole story.

One leaked report to the media showed that he told mental health experts after the attack that he believed he could be a martyr if convicted and executed by the government.

Hasan was left paralyzed and wheelchair-bound after being shot by officers responding to the rampage.

- AP


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