US & Canada

Fort Hood accused Hasan 'can represent himself'

Nidal Hasan (file image)
Image caption Maj Nidal Hasan has said that he does not want his military defence team beside him in court

A military judge has ruled that the US Army psychiatrist accused of the 2009 Fort Hood shooting may represent himself at his court martial.

Last week, the judge was given a report which concluded that Major Nidal Hasan was mentally competent to do so.

A doctor also testified on Monday that his paralysis would not have a significant impact on proceedings.

Maj Hasan could face the death penalty or life in prison without parole if convicted of the murders of 13 people.

The selection of a panel of officers who will act as the jury at his court martial is set to begin on Wednesday, and opening arguments are expected for 1 July.


A 1975 Supreme Court ruling guarantees a defendant's right to self-representation at a trial, but military law experts say there are exceptions at courts martial, for example if the defendant is physically or mentally incapable of doing so.

Last week, military judge Col Tara Osborn ordered the government to conduct mental and physical examinations of Maj Hasan and report by Friday.

After questioning Maj Hasan, 42, for about an hour on Monday, Col Osborn ruled that he was mentally competent and physically able to represent himself and understood "the disadvantage of self-representation".

She had repeatedly urged him to reconsider, saying the lead prosecutor was highly experienced and that he would be held to the same standards as all lawyers.

"You've made that quite clear," Maj Hasan said, according to the Associated Press.

Earlier, a doctor said his paralysis would not have a significant impact on the court martial, although he warned that he could only sit for four consecutive hours and had difficulty writing.

Maj Hasan was paralysed from the waist down after being shot by civilian police on the day of the attack at Fort Hood, an army base in Texas.

The judge also ordered that Maj Hasan's defence team would sit beside him during the court martial, in case he asked for help. He had said that he did not want them to be there.

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