Army sergeant is sentenced to death for premeditated murder

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 extremism.

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 &to=http:// ' target=_blank>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, tells the New York Times. The 15-person jury deliberated seven hours before returning the sentence. The same jury last week convicted Akbar of two counts of premeditated murder and three counts of attempted premeditated murder.

Earlier Thursday, Akbar, 34, apologized for his action in a brief statement to the court.

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