Correction to This Article
The headline on an April 29 article about the sentencing of a U.S. Army sergeant for a deadly 2003 grenade attack at an Army camp in Kuwait incorrectly said that the attack took place in Iraq. A front-page reference to the article also contained the error. The headline has been fixed on this online version of the article.

Sergeant Sentenced to Death for Killing Two Officers in Kuwait

Associated Press
Friday, April 29, 2005

FORT BRAGG, N.C., April 28 -- A military jury on Thursday sentenced Sgt. Hasan Akbar to die for the 2003 murders of two officers in a grenade attack at an Army camp in Kuwait during the opening days of the Iraq invasion.

The 15-person jury deliberated seven hours after hearing a barely audible and unsworn statement from Akbar, 34, who said he was sorry.

"I want to apologize for the attack that occurred. I felt that my life was in jeopardy, and I had no other options. I also want to ask you for forgiveness," Akbar told jurors.

They chose between sentences of death, life in prison or life without parole.

The same jury last week took 2 1/2 hours to convict him of two counts of premeditated murder and three counts of attempted premeditated murder.

The sentence will be the subject of an automatic appeal. If Akbar is executed, it would be by lethal injection.

Akbar stood at attention between his lawyers as the verdict was delivered. He gave no visible sign of emotion.

Deliberations paused earlier in the day after the jury reached a verdict, only to have one member request reconsideration. A military judge sent the 15-member panel back to vote early Thursday evening on whether to reconsider their decision.

Akbar spoke for less than a minute, making an unsworn statement that could not be cross-examined. He spoke in such a low voice that even prosecutors sitting nearby had trouble hearing, with one lawyer cupping his ear.

Prosecutors have said Akbar launched the attack on members of the 101st Airborne Division in March 2003 at Camp Pennsylvania because he was concerned about U.S. troops killing fellow Muslims in the Iraq war.

Although the defense contended Akbar was too mentally ill to plan the attack, they never disputed that it was he who threw grenades into troop tents in the early morning darkness and then fired on soldiers in the ensuing chaos.

Army Capt. Christopher Seifert, 27, and Air Force Maj. Gregory Stone, 40, were killed in the attack, and 14 others were wounded.

The court-martial is the first time since the Vietnam era that an American has been prosecuted on charges of murdering a fellow soldier during wartime. Akbar will join five others on the military's death row at Fort Leavenworth, Kan.

The last U.S. military execution was in 1961. Pfc. John A. Bennett of the Army was put to death after his conviction for the rape and murder of an 11-year-old Austrian girl.

© 2005 The Washington Post Company