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Army shooting suspect to appear in court July 20

File handout showing Hasan, U.S. Army psychiatrist identified by authorities as suspect in shooting at U.S. Army post in Fort Hood, Texas
File handout showing Hasan, U.S. Army psychiatrist identified by authorities as suspect in shooting at U.S. Army post in Fort Hood, Texas

By Chris Baltimore

HOUSTON (Reuters) - An Army psychiatrist charged in a 2009 killing rampage at a Texas military base will appear in court on July 20 in the opening phase of a court martial where he could be sentenced to death.

Major Nidal Malik Hasan, 40, who U.S. officials have said had links to a radical Muslim cleric in Yemen, is charged in the Fort Hood shootings that killed 13 people and wounded 32 others.

The wheelchair-bound suspect will appear in a Fort Hood courtroom for an arraignment before the base's chief circuit judge on Wednesday, the base said in a statement on Friday.

At the arraignment, Colonel Gregory Gross will allow Hasan to enter a plea of guilty or not guilty, and could set a date for the trial, the base said.

According to witnesses who testified at evidentiary hearings at Fort Hood in 2010, Hasan shouted "Allahu Akbar" -- Arabic for "God is Greatest" -- just before opening fire on a group of soldiers undergoing health checks before being deployed to war zones in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Hasan is confined to a wheelchair after he was paralyzed from the chest down by bullet wounds inflicted by civilian police officers during the November 5, 2009, shooting.

The incident has raised concerns over the threat of "homegrown" militant attacks. U.S. officials said Hasan had exchanged e-mails with Anwar al-Awlaki, an anti-American al Qaeda figure based in Yemen.

Fort Hood is a major deployment point for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

(Editing by Eric Beech)

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