The latest on the Jose Padilla trial:
A federal judge refused Tuesday to acquit Jose Padilla and two co-defendants on terrorism support charges, clearing the way for defense lawyers to begin presenting their case this week.
U.S. District Judge Marcia Cooke, ruling after a daylong hearing, said the evidence and testimony offered by the prosecuton over the past nine weeks was enough proof to let a jury decide the men’s guilt or innocence.
“That is something the jurors will have to find,” Cooke said. The trial is expected to last well into August.
Padilla, Adham Amin Hassoun and Kifah Wael Jayyousi face possible life in prison if convicted of being part of a support cell that provided recruits, money and supplies to Islamic extremist groups around the world, including al-Qaida. Padilla, a U.S. citizen also held for 3 1/2 years without charge as an enemy combatant, is accused in the Miami case of completing a form to attend an al-Qaida training camp in Afghanistan.
Padilla was originally suspected of plotting to detonate a radioactive “dirty bomb” in the U.S. after his May 2002 arrest, but those allegations are not part of the Miami trial.
The judge gets a quote of the day award:
Defense attorneys insisted the government evidence did not prove the existence of such a conspiracy. Padilla attorney Michael Caruso pointed out that Padilla’s voice is heard on only a handful of the intercepted phone calls and is never overheard discussing any type of violence.
“There’s not an agreement by Mr. Padilla to commit a murder. If there was a plan, he was not a willing participant,” Caruso said.
Hassoun lawyer Jeanne Baker contended that her client was interested “with passion” in assisting Muslims in conflict zones such as Chechnya, Bosnia and Somalia but mainly for humanitarian reasons. She said that Hassoun has no connection to al-Qaida and that FBI intercepts in which he urges others to travel to battle areas did not necessarily mean they had violent intent.
That brought a rejoinder from the judge.
“Well, he wasn’t telling people to go there to open lemonade stands,” Cooke said.