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US Military Tribunal Begins Hearing on Fort Hood Shooting

A television news vehicle undergoes  a security check outside the U.S. Magistrate court where an Article 32 hearing for Major Nidal Hasan begins 12 Oct 2010 in Fort Hood, Texas
A television news vehicle undergoes a security check outside the U.S. Magistrate court where an Article 32 hearing for Major Nidal Hasan begins 12 Oct 2010 in Fort Hood, Texas

A hearing began Tuesday to consider if there is enough evidence to try an Army psychiatrist for a deadly shooting at a U.S. Army base in Texas.

A spokesman at the Fort Hood Army Base says the military tribunal hearing involving Major Nidal Malik Hasan held a brief opening session, but then adjourned until Wednesday morning.

The November 2009 attack at Fort Hood killed 13 people and wounded 32 others.

Hasan has been charged with 13 counts of premeditated murder and 32 counts of attempted murder.  He could face the death penalty.

Hasan, who was paralyzed from the waist down after being shot during the attack, is expected to appear at the hearing.

The officer has been linked to radical U.S.-born Muslim cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, who is based in Yemen.

Witnesses say they heard Hasan shout "Allahu Akbar," Arabic for "God is great," just before he opened fire on a group of soldiers preparing for their deployments.

The tribunal is expected to hear dozens of defense and prosecution witnesses, including those wounded in the attack.  The proceeding, which is similar to a civilian grand jury or preliminary hearing, could last more than a month.

A U.S. Defense Department investigation after the shootings said the Pentagon was not prepared for internal threats and recommended that the military officers who supervised the suspected gunman be held accountable.

In its final report on the incident, the Pentagon said the military must make sure supervisors have access to soldiers' personnel records and be aware of potential workplace violence.  It also recommended an expansion of emergency response capabilities at military bases.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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