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NATION IN BRIEF

Thursday, April 21, 2005; Page A13

Soldier's Father Seeks Harassment Probe

FORT BRAGG, N.C. -- Sgt. Hasan Akbar's father urged the military Wednesday to investigate the religious and racial harassment his son faced from his platoon before he unleashed a 2003 grenade attack that killed two fellow soldiers.

John Akbar's statement to the Associated Press titled "Concerned Father Seeks Justice For Loved Son" came as testimony wrapped up in his son's court-martial on murder charges that carry a possible death penalty. Jurors were to return Thursday for closing arguments and the start of deliberations.

The elder Akbar said that his son had complained to superiors about the threats, slurs and taunts he faced as the only black and Muslim in his platoon, but that little was done before the March 2003 attack in Kuwait against fellow members of the 101st Airborne Division.

"As a father seeking justice, I want all of these things thoroughly investigated," his statement said. "I want to know why my son's complaints were not taken seriously and why he was kept in such a racist platoon."

Lt. Col. Ed Loomis, spokesman for the 101st at Fort Campbell, Ky., said there is no investigation of the incidents described in the statement beyond what is happening in the court-martial.

Connecticut Set to Allow Same-Sex Civil Unions

HARTFORD, Conn. -- Lawmakers gave final approval to a bill that would make Connecticut the second state to offer civil unions to gay couples.

Last week, the state House passed the measure but amended it to define marriage under Connecticut law as between a man and a woman.

The state Senate approved the amended bill Wednesday 26 to 8 and sent it to Republican Gov. M. Jodi Rell, who has said she will sign it.

The measure would give gay couples many of the rights and privileges available to married couples.

Vermont is the only state that allows civil unions. Massachusetts allows same-sex couples to marry.

LITTLETON, Colo. -- Red roses placed on 13 black granite crosses honored those killed at Columbine High School six years ago in the nation's deadliest school shooting. No formal observances were planned in the memory of the 12 students and one teacher who were gunned down in 1999 by students Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold at the suburban school near Denver. The two teens shot and killed themselves.

AUSTIN -- Texas could become the only state to bar gays from becoming foster parents under legislation passed by the state House. The ban is part of a bill to restructure the state's Child Protective Services agency. It passed 135 to 6 with two abstentions and now heads to the state Senate.

-- From News Services


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