Army Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan’s trial opened Tuesday, and the former Muslim military psychiatrist who admitted killing 13 at Fort Hood in 2009 as a defense of Islam will be acting as his own attorney.
Officially, the government is still classifying the shooting rampage as an act of “workplace violence,” effectively shutting the doors on Purple Heart military awards.
“When people can finally start reporting on the actual evidence that’s introduced at this trial, people are going to see how incredibly brutal this was, and incredibly heartbreaking,” said Geoffrey Corn, a professor at the South Texas College of Law, in Time. “This is a heartbreaking case.”
Maj. Hasan, 39 at the time of the rampage, killed 13 and wounded more than 30 others, and now faces a possible death sentence. He was paralyzed from the waist down when an officer shot him, and he will defend himself during trial from a wheelchair.
Maj. Hasan has claimed that he shot his victims in defense of Taliban leadership, Time reported. Yet the U.S. government still characterizes the shooting as “workplace violence,” – effectively shutting the door to victims’ receipt of the Purple Heart, The Daily Beast reported.
The Pentagon said in a previous memo that “defense counsel will argue that Major Hasan cannot receive a fair trial because a branch of government has indirectly declared that Major Hasan is a terrorist — that he is criminally culpable,” The Daily Beast reported.