Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Padilla loses torture argument

The presiding judge has rejected Jose Padilla's motion to dismiss the criminal charges against him.

federal judge refused to dismiss terrorism charges against Jose Padilla over claims that the alleged al-Qaida operative was tortured in U.S. military custody, removing one of the last major obstacles to the start of his trial next week.

U.S. District Judge Marcia Cooke stressed in a 12-page order filed late Monday that she was not passing judgment on the torture allegations. Rather, she said the effort to dismiss the case for "outrageous government conduct" was faulty on legal grounds....

Cooke said the dismissal motion wasn't backed up by case law and failed on legal grounds because prosecutors aren't using any evidence collected during Padilla's time in the brig.

To rule otherwise would "effectively provide a defendant with amnesty for any uncharged crime so long as the government violated the defendant's due process rights at some prior point," she wrote.

She warned, however, that the issue could return should prosecutors decide to use evidence from Padilla's interrogations.

That makes sense. As I noted previously,
the government's treatment of Padilla has indeed been outrageous. But was it outrageous enough to derail a trial? The judge decided no.

With the last major hurdle out of the way, the trial can proceed. Next up: jury selection. And what a lengthy, tortuous process that will be.

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