Defendant In 101st Grenade Attack Trial Awaiting Sleep Study


No Lifer
Jun 7, 2001

(FORT BRAGG, N.C., May 24th, 2004, 11:30 a.m.) -- An Army sergeant accused in a deadly grenade attack on fellow members of the 101st Airborne Division is being sent to Kentucky for a sleep study to address his inability to stay awake during court hearings.

A military prosecutor said Monday that Sgt. Hassan Akbar will be scheduled for the study of his sleep problems, which have been an issue in pretrial hearings.

"He's going to be transferred back to the (Fort) Knox confinement facility," Cpt. Rob McGovern said. "So the sleep study will be conducted there."

Col. Patrick Parrish, the military judge overseeing the case, had to awaken Akbar during a hearing earlier this month.

Akbar, 32, who is charged with killing two soldiers and wounding 14 others last year in Kuwait during the opening days of the Iraq war.

Civilian defense attorney Wazir Ali Muhammad Al-Haqq said Akbar told him that medication he was given to treat his sleep apnea "had been ineffective." The defense has said Akbar's sleep problem will be part of their case at trial.

The case against Akbar is the first time since the Vietnam War that a U.S. Army soldier has been prosecuted for the murder or attempted murder of another soldier during wartime, the Army has said.

Prosecutors allege that Akbar stole seven grenades from a Humvee he was guarding on March 23, 2003, and used them in the attack an hour later, killing two men by throwing grenades into their sleeping tents. Akbar's lawyers have said there were no witnesses to the crime and Akbar was accused because he is Muslim.

Although the 101st Airborne is based at Fort Campbell, Ky., the case was transferred to Fort Bragg last year because the division was deployed in Iraq. The 101st has since returned.

In other developments during the morning session of Monday's hearing, Parrish denied defense motions aimed at eliminating the death penalty as possible punishment for Akbar. He also denied a motion to have members of the military jury panel who will hear the case selected at random. The defense has contended the pool for the jury is top-heavy with commanders who might not be fair to Akbar.