Hasan Akbar was sentenced to death by the US Military for two murders and eleven attempted murders. According to court documents Hasan Akbar would throw two grenades and open fire on US Service Person Personell in Kuwait injuring two Officers and injuring eleven serviceman. Hasan Akbar was arrested, convicted and sentenced to death
Hasan Akbar More News
Sgt. Hasan Akbar was sentenced to death Thursday night for killing Army Airborne Capt. Christopher Scott Seifert and another officer during a grenade and rifle attack in Kuwait two years ago.
Sgt. Hasan Akbar, it is my duty as the president judge of the military panel of this court-martial to inform you…it is the unanimous decision of us all that you should be put to death,” the jury foreman said.
The 34-year-old Akbar, who earlier in the day pleaded for forgiveness, did not react. A gasp rose from the families of Seifert and Air Force Maj. Gregory “Linus” Stone who gathered to hear the outcome with some of the 14 soldiers Akbar wounded in at Camp Pennsylvania.
“We are satisfied with the verdict and believe that the panel has sent forth the appropriate sentence,” Seifert’s widow, Terri Seifert, said later. The decision means Akbar, a Muslim, has become the first U.S. soldier since the early Vietnam era to receive death for murdering a comrade during wartime.
Christopher Seifert’s parents, Helen and Tom, who still live in the Williams Township home where they raised their only child, did not comment after the verdict. They and a cordon of five soldiers wounded by Akbar stood behind Terri Seifert as she spoke.
“Sgt. Akbar is a non-entity to me,” Terri Seifert said. “What Sgt. Akbar has to say is irrelevant to me.”
The 15-member military jury was equally unconvinced of Akbar’s sincerity Thursday or his alleged insanity on March 23, 2003.
It took seven hours for the jury to decide unanimously that Akbar deserved the ultimate punishment for killing Seifert, 27, and Stone, 40, of Boise, Idaho.
“We didn’t come here seeking vengeance; that is for the Lord,” Stone family spokeswoman Karin Tackabery read from a prepared statement. “We did come seeking earthly justice for Gregg, Chris and all the real American soldiers that were wounded, the families that were destroyed and the three little boys who are now without fathers.”
Akbar’s parents, John Akbar and Quran Bilal, declined comment. Nor did they testify as expected.
Stone’s fiance, Tammie Eslinger, said the seven hours of jury deliberations was nerve wracking. “It seemed like years,” she said. “I prayed. I talked to Gregg a little bit. I was pleased with the panel’s decision.”
The verdict, however, does not mean Akbar — who prosecutors said attacked his comrades to prevent them from going to war against Muslims — has an inevitable date with a lethal needle. Under the Uniform Code of Military Justice, death sentences undergo a five- step review, which can take years to complete.
The convening authority in the case, Maj. Gen Virgil L. Packett 2nd, acting commander of 18th Airborne and Fort Bragg, has the power to reduce the sentence to life.
Should he sign off the death sentence, the decision then goes before the Army Court of Criminal Appeals, a panel of at least three commissioned officers or civilian lawyers, which can also reduce the sentence.
An upheld death sentence is reviewed a third time, by the U.S. Court of Appeals of the Armed Forces, a panel of five civilian judges. Finally, Akbar can petition the U.S. Supreme Court for relief.
Five men are on death row at the U.S. Disciplinary Barracks, Fort Leavenworth, Kan. Army Spc. Ronald A. Gray has been on death row the longest, since April 1988. The last was executed in 1961. The last military death sentence handed down was in 1996 to Army Sgt. William Kreutzer; it was overturned on appeal.
At 9:15 a.m., before closing arguments, Akbar, against the advice of his counsel, spoke to the jury in an attempt to save his life.
Akbar spoke in a whisper.
“I want to apologize for the attack that occurred,” Akbar said so softly prosecutors and others in the courtroom leaned forward and cupped their ears. “I felt my life was in jeopardy, and I had no other options. I also ask you for forgiveness.”
It lasted less than a minute. Prosecutors did not question him because it was not a sworn statement under oath.
The jury, however, was not swayed. It announced its sentence at 8:40 p.m.
Both the government and defense presented impassioned closing statements.
Lead prosecutor Lt. Col. Michael Mulligan angrily reiterated the government’s case: Akbar is a calculating murderer who valued his Muslim faith over the lives of his comrades.
“He can now and forever be called a cold-blooded killer,” the prosecutor said. “The appropriate sentence in this case is that the accused be put to death. He should forfeit his life.”
War is dirty and bloody, fought by men with M4 rifles and grenades, Mulligan said, and Akbar, driven by hatred, unleashed his own personal war on innocent, sleeping men to whom he swore allegiance.
“This is what he wrote, and this is what he did,” Mulligan repeated over and over while a jumbo computer screen flashed diary passages about murder and violence and then crime scene photos.
The prosecutor choked up describing how Seifert’s 2-year-old son, Benjamin, will grow up without knowing his father.
“For Benjamin, Father’s Day will be a yearly reminder of loss,” Mulligan read from prepared remarks. “For Christmas and Thanksgiving there will always be one empty place for Chris Seifert, murdered by the enemy within the wire.”
Recognizing the mounting tension and rising resentment against his client, Coombs, in his closing argument, urged restraint.
Coombs told jurors he understands their pain because as a fellow solider he feels betrayed too. But, he said the law dictates they must put aside their personal feelings in order to render a “logical and reasonable” verdict.
“This would be my recommendation,” Coombs said, “life without the possibility of parole.”
He said Akbar’s seemingly damning diary entries do not portray his client as a man with hatred in his heart. Coombs said the entries show Akbar, a once brilliant student, was slowing going insane, and worsened in the Army.
If jurors are appalled at the crime, Coombs said, they should be disgusted with the military too. “Why was Sgt. Akbar in the Army?” he asked.
Coombs said Akbar’s unnerving tics and poor performance should have drummed him out of the service long before March 23, 2003. He said if Akbar’s company commander had listened to his subordinates’ concerns about sending Akbar to Kuwait, then Seifert and Stone might still be alive.
“While I am not saying the unit was responsible I am saying their ability not to act had consequences,” Coombs said.
But the jury believed the government, which had mounds of evidence and a confession.
Akbar’s final deployment will occur shortly, when he is transported under armed escort to Fort Leavenworth to await the outcome of his appeals and his fate.
“It is a relief that we close this chapter in our lives,” Terri Seifert said. “I have faith in the military justice system.”