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Witnesses tell of Fort Hood rampage

The trial of a US Army psychiatrist has resumed with witnesses describing how he carried out a shooting massacre that left 13 dead at the Fort Hood military base in Texas.

Nidal Hasan, who is acting as his own solicitor during the trial, mostly watched in silence, as he has since the trial began last week. That has enabled prosecutors to call more than 60 witnesses in just four days.

Hasan, a US-born Muslim, faces the death penalty if convicted of murder and attempted murder in the November 2009 shootings. He has told jurors he was the gunman and has said little in his defence.

The witnesses, many of them soldiers shot during the attack, have described how Hasan opened fire inside a Fort Hood building, leaving it covered in blood and bodies. Hasan has questioned just two witnesses and raised only a few brief objections.

Hasan's standby defence attorneys have protested that he is putting up a defence that guarantees him the death penalty.

The lawyers asked the judge to scale back their responsibilities to help Hasan or to allow them to take over his defence, but the judge refused. The rapid pace raises the possibility that prosecutors may wrap up far sooner than the months-long timeline the judge initially said was possible for the trial.

So far, witnesses have built a gory, detailed picture about what happened the afternoon of November 5 2009. They have said a gunman shouted "Allahu Akbar" - Arabic for "God is great" - and opened fire on unarmed soldiers, many of whom were getting ready to deploy to Afghanistan.

Many of the wounded soldiers thought the gunfire was a training exercise, and some did not realise it was an attack until they were hit by bullets.

Specialist Jonathan Sims also took the stand, telling jurors how he was shot while trying to protect another soldier whose neck he was holding to try to stop the bleeding.

Sims then echoed earlier testimony when he said he heard a wounded soldier crying out: "My baby, my baby." One of the soldiers who was killed, Private Franceska Velez, was pregnant. A total of 18 witnesses testified on Monday, and Hasan did not question any of them.


From Belfast Telegraph