NEW INDICTMENT FOR SAMI AL-ARIAN-Andrew Stelzer10/05/04
Federal prosecutors laid out new charges against former USF professor Sami Al-Arian this morning. Lawyers for Al-Arian say that the new indictment is a strategy by the government to cover up their past mistakes, and make it harder for the defense to prepare before the trial is scheduled to begin on January 5th. Bill Moffitt, Al Ã¢â‚¬â€œArians attorney said after this mornings hearing that to review all the charges and prepare a proper defense, will take longer than 3 months.
ACT Ã¢â‚¬ËœWhen you get a new indictment that has 48 allegationsÃ¢â‚¬Â¦it hard..weve gotta revise it and thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s not easy..Ã¢â‚¬?
Moffitt asked for 30 additional days from judge McCoun to look over all the new evidence, he was granted only 20 days by the judge
ACT Ã¢â‚¬ËœIve been saying for a while, if you are going to for a superseding indictment, donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t so it like this ..its unfairÃ¢â‚¬Â¦Ã¢â‚¬?
Al-Arian is now charged with money laundering, and expanded acts of racketeering, in addition to the charges he was previously facing of conspiracy to commit murder, and conspiracy to provide material resources to a terrorist organization, specifically the Palestinian Islamic jihad, among other old charges. Al-Arian is on trial with Sameeh Hammoudeh, and the new indictment also includes Mazen Al-Najjar, Al-Arians cousin and also a former USF professor. Moffit says heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s particularly concerned about the racketeering charge, and he thinks bringing Najaar into the case makes it even harder for the defense, since Najjar is out of the country and may be impossible to find and bring back to the US.
ACT Ã¢â‚¬Å“Why mason at this pointÃ¢â‚¬Â¦heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s out of the country, and now we have to figure out how to defend against himÃ¢â‚¬Â¦Ã¢â‚¬?
Steven Bernstein, the lawyer for Sameeh Hammoudeh, told reporters that with this new indictment, the government has been allowed to fix all the mistakes they a made in the first one, many of which were pointed out during hearings that have been held since the two men were arrested in February of 2003
ACT Ã¢â‚¬Å“These were the errors we pointed out in the bond motionÃ¢â‚¬Â¦these faxes were not sent to a small place..the dropping of 60 overt acts..theres dramatic changes, we want to stay on track but what we donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t know is where the changes are based, no new discovery, some of the things we thought were not important now are. ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a enormous task.Ã¢â‚¬?
The government claims that Al Arian and Hammoudeh will be connected with terrorist attacks that have resulted in 3 murders. Before his arrest, President Bush has had Al-Arian as a guest in the white house, and Al-Arians attorneys have said there will likely be members of the Bush administration called as witnesses in the trial. WMNF asked Moffitt if a change in presidents might alter how aggressively the government pursues the case
ACT Ã¢â‚¬Å“These guys arenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t gonna walk away unless they get an order from a new attorney generalÃ¢â‚¬Â¦but is bush is elected, it may change because of what may happen.Ã¢â‚¬?
Moffitt also criticized Senate candidates Mel Martinez and Betty Castor for their repeated references to Al-Arian as a terrorist, even though he has not been found guilty, and his trial has not even begun. Martinez has been accusing Castor of not taking proper action when she was president at the University of South Florida, and Al Arian as a professor was under investigation. Castor has defended her actions, and law enforcement officials have affirmed that Castor had no information with which she could have fired Al Arian, but Castor has not been defending Al-Arian as innocent until proven guilty.
ACT Ã¢â‚¬ËœÃ¢â‚¬Â¦they are always commenting on itÃ¢â‚¬Â¦its very disappointing that the people are saying my client is a terrorist..itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a disgrace they need to be chastised for itÃ¢â‚¬Â¦its absolutely amazing g that they could have disregard..Ã¢â‚¬?
The next hearing in the case will be October 15th, Al-Arian and Hammoudehs lawyers will ask for a delay on the beginning of the trial, which is now scheduled for January 5th.