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learnedly read, too; in part, of intellectual rigor
Posted Tuesday, January 27, 2009
Terror suspects, nearly all of Haitian parentage,
to be tried for a third time
By Curt Anderson, Associated Press Writer
MIAMI—Finding lingering emotions from the Sept. 11 terror attacks emerged as
central to questioning prospective jurors Tuesday in the third trial of a group
accused of plotting with al-Qaida to destroy Chicago's Sears Tower and blow up
Prosecutors and defense lawyers want to ensure that the jurors ultimately chosen
to hear the case against the six men accused of being a budding al-Qaida cell do
not have biases because of the attacks more than seven years ago.
"Have the events of Sept. 11 or any other terrorist act affected you to such an
extent that it would make it difficult for you to sit and listen to evidence in
this case and be fair to both the government and the defendants?" was one
question for the first 34 potential jurors.
Most jurors said they believed they could set aside any Sept. 11-related
feelings and be impartial. But some were not so sure. "I think so. It's hard to
say," said a woman who described herself as a Roman Catholic. The jurors'
identities are being kept secret. "I have a problem with people who use religion
to justify crime." Another female juror said she thinks "the government has gone
overboard" in the war on terror. Later,
U.S. District Judge Joan Lenard said that juror was overheard by court security
personnel telling the others that "they're never going to convict" in the Miami
Prosecutors sought to have her struck for bias. The group's leader, Narseal
Batiste, 34, and the other five men are facing a third trial after two previous
cases ended in hung juries.
A seventh man was acquitted after the first trial, but the U.S. is moving to
deport him to his native Haiti. The process to pick 12 jurors and six alternates
is expected to take a week or more, followed by an estimated two-month trial.
Prosecutors claim the group was intent on using the Sears Tower attack to ignite
a broad insurrection against the U.S. government. Each of the six faces up to 70
years in prison if convicted of four charges, including conspiracy to levy war
against the U.S. and conspiracy to support al-Qaida. There is no evidence the
men ever took any steps toward pulling off an attack.
When they were arrested in 2006, the Bush administration trumpeted the case as a
prime example of the strategy of heading off terrorists in the earliest possible
Batiste and one other suspect have been jailed for over two years. The other
four were released on bail after the second mistrial.
© Copyright 2009 Associated Press. All rights reserved.
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