Wednesday, March 10, 2004

July 12 court martial set in grenade attack

By Kimberly Hefling
The Associated Press

FORT KNOX, Ky. - A judge set a July court martial date Tuesday for an Army sergeant charged in a grenade attack in Kuwait that killed two officers a day before they were to move into Iraq.

If convicted, Sgt. Hasan Akbar, 32, formerly of the 101st Airborne Division, could become the seventh serviceman on the military's death row.

Akbar's civilian attorney had asked for a trial date in the fall so there would be more time to prepare.

But Col. Dan Trimble said at an arraignment hearing Tuesday that it was premature to consider delaying the case. He set the court martial to begin July 12.

Wearing a uniform with no handcuffs, Akbar looked down while sitting at the defense table during most of the hearing.

He is charged with murder and attempted murder for the attack on a group of fellow 101st Airborne Division soldiers and others last March.

The Army has said his court-martial marks the first time since the Vietnam War that a U.S. Army soldier has been prosecuted for the murder or attempted murder of another soldier during wartime.

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