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17 Jan 2003 07:26
Four men serving life sentences for conspiring to bomb two US embassies in Africa are seeking a new trial because, their lawyer alleges, jurors acted improperly and saw them shackled during their 2001 trial.
The lawyer, Joshua Dratel, filed papers on Wednesday in the 2nd US Circuit Court of Appeals seeking to return the case to the trial judge so he can decide if the men deserve a new trial. Dratel said a new trial might be warranted because two jurors consulted pastors about the death penalty, violating Judge Leonard Sand’s order not to “read, listen to or discuss with anyone anything related to this case.”
A third juror used the Internet to research a legal concept—aiding and abetting—Dratel said.
Jurors also became aware during the trial that the men were in shackles, which were supposed to be hidden, Dratel said.
“It obviously raises questions about the integrity of the verdict in terms of outside influences on the jury,” Dratel said.
Wadih El-Hage, Mohamed Rashed Daoud al-‘Owhali, Mohammed Saddiq Odeh and Khalfan Khamis Mohamed were convicted in 2001. All were sentenced to life in prison.
They were convicted of carrying out a conspiracy for Osama bin Laden that included the bombings of US embassies in Nairobi, Kenya, and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, on August 7, 1998. Those bombings killed 224 people, including 12 Americans. In his court papers, Dratel said lawyers have had difficulty preparing appeals because the conditions under which the men are confined at the Bureau of Prisons’ maximum security facility in Florence, Colorado.
Dratel said the lawyers have had trouble reaching their clients, who have been held in solitary confinement and prohibited from reading newspapers or magazines, listening to the radio or watching television.
He said El-Hage, a former personal secretary to bin Laden, and al-‘Owhali have been force-fed after going on hunger strikes to protest conditions. - Sapa-AP
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