judge rejects Bin Laden son-in-law's claim of mistaken identity
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[March 01, 2014]
By Joseph Ax
NEW YORK (Reuters) - A federal judge on
Friday rejected a last-ditch request from one of Osama bin Laden's
sons-in-law to delay his trial after his lawyers said the government may
have mixed him up with a detainee at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, with a
U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan said the trial of Suleiman Abu
Ghaith will go forward on Monday. In addition, he denied the
defense's bid to compel the government to turn over additional
details about the Guantanamo detainee, identified as Abdul Rahman
Abdul Abu Ghityh Sulayman in defense court filings.
Kaplan also said that Abu Ghaith will not be able to introduce
testimony from Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the alleged mastermind of the
September 11, 2001, attacks on the World Trade Center - at least for
Prosecutors have accused Abu Ghaith of acting as a spokesman for al
Qaeda and recording videos soon after the September 11 attacks
threatening further violence against Americans.
Defense lawyers have argued that the government cannot prove that
Abu Ghaith was involved in, or even aware of, specific plans to
attack the United States.
At a hearing on Friday, one of Abu Ghaith's lawyers, Zoe Dolan, said
the government appeared to have additional information about the
detainee in Cuba and should be compelled to turn it over.
But Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Ferrara told Kaplan that there
was no chance of a case of mistaken identity.
"This person was not known as Suleiman Abu Ghaith in Afghanistan and
is completely irrelevant to the charges here," he said. "By no one's
account could this person be confused with the defendant."
Kaplan said the trial would start on Monday and refused to order the
government to turn over any other material.
Defense lawyers for Abu Ghaith said that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed had
provided a 14-page declaration in response to written questions they
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According to an agreement signed by Abu Ghaith's lawyers and the
government, Mohammed's answers were to be submitted for national
security review to the Defense Department before any part of them
could be given to the defense.
But Mohammed's lawyer, David Nevin, has thus far refused to turn
over the declaration until he gets assurances that other
intelligence agencies will not have access to the answers, according
to Stanley Cohen, one of Abu Ghaith's lawyers.
It was unclear what Mohammed's declaration says. Nevin did not
respond to a request for comment on Friday.
Kaplan said he would be willing to consider future defense requests
to admit testimony from Mohammed but that the trial would go forward
in the meantime without it.
The trial is expected to last several weeks.
(Reporting by Joseph Ax; Editing by Dan Grebler)
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