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Arizona shooting suspect denies charges

The man accused of the Arizona shooting attack that killed six people and wounded 13, including a US congresswoman, has pleaded not guilty to three attempted murder charges.

Jared Loughner (22) entered the pleas over the attempted assassination of Representative Gabrielle Giffords and two aides.

Ms Giffords, who was shot in the head, is at a rehabilitation centre in Texas.

Mr Loughner, who has been in jail since the attack, arrived amid high security for his arraignment hearing.

Wearing glasses and an orange prison jumpsuit, Mr Loughner sat quietly through the whole hearing, smiling broadly. The shooting on January 8, occurred at a meeting Ms Giffords, a Democrat, was holding for constituents at a supermarket in Tucson, Arizona.

Some 13 people, including Ms Giffords, who was shot through the head, were wounded in the rampage before bystanders tackled the suspect.

Among the dead were a nine-year-old girl and federal judge John Roll.

Prosecutors have said Mr Loughner, who had been rejected by the US military due to drug use and suspended from a college amid concerns about his mental health, targeted Ms Giffords for assassination.

Ms Giffords has made what doctors call remarkable progress, and is undergoing a course of intensive rehabilitation at Memorial Hermann Rehabilitation Hospital in Houston, where her husband Mark Kelly works for NASA

Mr Loughner is represented by Judy Clarke, a prominent defence lawyer who represented an infamous parcel bomber and the man convicted of setting a bomb at the 1996 Olympic games in Atlanta. She is a fierce opponent of capital punishment.

Prosecutors, in a court filing yesterday, sought to move future hearings in Loughner's case to Tucson to make it easier for victims.

"It is difficult for the victims to attend hearings, since they must factor in a four-hour round trip car ride to Phoenix," lawyers said in the filing.

Irish Independent