Judge refuses to relieve Hasan attorneys in Fort Hood trial
Defense attorneys helping the Fort Hood shooting suspect, Nidal Hasan, represent himself demanded their removal from the trial on Thursday, saying the judge was forcing them to violate professional rules of conduct.
As a result the three lawyers asked to take a lesser role in the defence of Major Nidal Hasan, on the ground they couldn’t watch him to fulfil a death wish. He is representing himself, but has been given the help of court lawyers.
Judge Colonel Tara Osborn turned down the defence attorneys’ request, saying that the US Constitution allowed Major Hasan the right to defend himself and labelled their request as “nothing more than a disagreement with Major Hasan’s trial strategy”.
The former Major Hasan, who served in the US army as a psychiatrist, admitted 13 counts of murder and 32 counts of assault in the 2009 shooting which occurred at Ford Hood in Texas.
He explained that the reason he carried out the attack was because he believed there was an American war on Islam. During the court hearing Major Hasan said he attacked to protect Muslims and Taliban leaders in Afghanistan, but Colonel Osborn barred him from raising that defence in his court martial.
Hasan initially tried to plead guilty, but in death penalty cases under military law a not-guilty plea is required.
Yesterday several witnesses testified about their ordeal during the terrible attack, describing playing dead to try avoiding injury and their desperate attempts to save friends and colleagues nearby.
Hasan gave a brief opening statement on Tuesday, the first day of the trial, claiming responsibility for the attack that killed 13 people at Fort Hood. He refused to question the witnesses and barely spoke. On one of the few times he did talk, he asked to add to the record that the alleged murder weapon was his, but no one had asked.