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Death sentence affirmed for soldier who killed comrades in Kuwait
November 20, 2006

WASHINGTON (AFP) - A general has affirmed the death sentence for a US Army sergeant convicted of murdering two fellow soldiers in a grenade attack in Kuwait at the outset of the US invasion of Iraq in 2003, the army said.

Sergeant Hasan Akbar is the first US soldier to face the death penalty for killing another soldier since the end of the Vietnam War.

Lieutenant General John Vines, commander of the 18th Airborne Corps, acted Friday to affirm the death sentenced against Akbar, which was handed down on April 28, 2005 after the unanimous vote of a military court, the army said.

"The case now goes to the Army Court of Criminal Appeals under an automatic appeal," the army said.

Akbar rolled grenades into three tents at Camp Pennsylvania in the northern Kuwait desert on March 22, 2003 as soldiers slept.

The attack, which was carried out the night before the unit was supposed to cross into Iraq, killed Captain Christopher Seifert, 27, and Air Force Major Gregory Stone, 40, and wounded 14 other soldiers.

Defense attorneys argued that Akbar, a Muslim convert, was mentally ill at the time of the attack.

The last military execution took place in 1961, but seven other service members have been sentenced to death since the military death penalty was reinstated in 1984.

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