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Fort Hood Gunman Sane, Fit to Stand Trial, Army Panel Reportedly Rules

Major Nidal Malik Hasan, the U.S. Army doctor identified by authorities as the suspect in a mass shooting at the U.S. Army post in Fort Hood, Texas, is seen in this undated handout photo. (Reuters)

Major Nidal Malik Hasan, the U.S. Army doctor identified by authorities as the suspect in a mass shooting at the U.S. Army post in Fort Hood, Texas, is seen in this undated handout photo. (Reuters)

A military panel reportedly has ruled that the Army psychiatrist charged with killing 13 people and wounding dozens more in a shooting rampage at the Fort Hood  Army base is sane and fit to stand trial.

The ruling by the Army's sanity board clears the way for the Army to pursue a court-martial against Maj. Nidal Hasan, who could face the death penalty, Agence France-Presse reported.

The board submitted its report to Army officials and defense attorneys last week, offering an assessment of Maj. Nidal Hasan's mental state during the November 2009 shootings that killed 13 and wounded more than two dozen others and his competence to stand trial.

A source close to the case told AFP the board found Hasan to be sane and fit to be tried.

Hasan's lead attorney, John Galligan, would not confirm the panel's findings, but suggested Tuesday that they did not go in Hasan's favor.

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"I'm not going to say what they ruled," he told AFP. "I would just say this: I don't think the report will be anything that will be an impediment to the charges from the government's perspective."

Galligan contended that the three-member panel of mental health professionals did not have all the information needed for the evaluation, including key government reports about the shooting that have yet to be released.

Galligan said he will disclose the results of the evaluation after a brigade commander, who received the report, makes a recommendation next month on whether Hasan should stand trial and face the death penalty for 13 counts of premeditated murder and 32 counts of attempted premeditated murder.

That officer has agreed to delay any action until February 23, AFP reported.

After that, a commanding general will make the final decision.

An Army colonel who presided over an evidentiary hearing last fall made an initial recommendation that Hasan, an American-born Muslim of Palestinian descent, should be court-martialed and face the death penalty. Army officials have not said whether they would seek that punishment if Hasan goes to trial.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.