[Marxism] Complementary NY Times articles

Brian Shannon Brian_Shannon at verizon.net
Fri Apr 29 07:45:16 MDT 2005

By JOHN DeSANTIS, April 29, 2005

CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C., April 28 - On the third day of hearings to 
determine whether a Marine officer should face charges of premeditated 
murder for shooting two Iraqis suspected of being insurgents, former 
comrades praised his leadership on Thursday and said they would 
willingly go to war with him again.

None witnessed the shooting, so they shed no light on why the 
defendant, Second Lt. Ilario Pantano, killed the two Iraqis, Hamaady 
Kareem and Tahah Ahmead Hanjil, a year ago near Mahmudiya.

Lieutenant Pantano has said he acted in self-defense. That explanation 
was good enough for his commander, Capt. Brad Weston, when he was told 
of the incident. "He told me they tried to attack him, moved in an 
aggressive manner towards him in such a way he felt he was in imminent 
danger," Captain Weston testified on Thursday via telephone.

Captain Weston acknowledged that he made no further inquiries after 
talking to Lieutenant Pantano and said that he was unaware of certain 
details - including assertions that Mr. Kareem and Mr. Hanjil were shot 
in the back - until a Navy Criminal Investigative Service inquiry into 
the incident early this year.

Maj. Stephen Keane, the lead military prosecutor, asked Captain Weston 
whether the number of shots fired - at least 50 rounds from an M-16 
rifle - was appropriate. "It's not something I would congratulate an 
individual on," Captain Weston replied. "I would not recommend that 
anyone shoot that many rounds, no sir."

Lieutenant Pantano, who has appeared poker-faced during most of this 
week's proceedings, had tears welling in his eyes as he listened to 
testimony on Thursday from some of the marines he once commanded. "He 
is a great marine who has the attention to detail to bring the men back 
alive," said Martin McPherson, who is now a civilian.

Another ex-marine, Judd Word, said Lieutenant Pantano bought soccer 
balls for Iraqi children. "He loved to play with little kids, always 
carrying candy or stuff like that," Mr. Word said.


FORT BRAGG, N.C., April 28 (AP) - A military jury sentenced an Army 
sergeant to death Thursday for a grenade and rifle attack on his own 
comrades in the opening days of the Iraq invasion, a barrage that 
killed two officers and that prosecutors said was driven by religious 

The defendant, Sgt. Hasan Akbar, gave a brief, barely audible apology 
hours earlier and showed no emotion as the verdict was delivered.

Sergeant Akbar, 34, could have been sentenced to life in prison with or 
without parole for the attack in March 2003, which also wounded 14 
fellow members of the Army's 101st Airborne Division at Camp 
Pennsylvania in Kuwait. The 15-member jury, which took just two and a 
half hours last week to convict Sergeant Akbar of premeditated murder 
and attempted premeditated murder, deliberated about seven hours in the 
sentencing phase.

The sentence will be reviewed by a commanding officer and automatically 
appealed. If Sergeant Akbar is executed, it would be by lethal 
injection. "I want to apologize for the attack that occurred," he told 
the jury before it began deliberations in the sentencing phase. "I felt 
that my life was in jeopardy, and I had no other options. I also want 
to ask you for forgiveness."

While the defense contended that Sergeant Akbar was too mentally ill to 
plan the attack, it did not dispute that he threw grenades into tents 
and then fired on soldiers. Capt. Chris Seifert of the Army and Maj. 
Gregory Stone of the Air Force were killed.

Prosecutors said Sergeant Akbar, a Muslim, attacked his camp - days 
before the soldiers were to move into Iraq - because he was concerned 
about American troops killing fellow Muslims in the Iraq war.

Maj. David Coombs, a defense lawyer, urged a sentence of life without 
parole. "Death is an absolute punishment, a punishment of last resort," 
Major Coombs said.

Sergeant Akbar is the first American since the Vietnam era to be 
prosecuted on charges of murdering a fellow soldier in wartime. 

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