AL-ARIAN CASE CONTINUES...GOVT HAS FALSE TRANSLATIONS??-Andrew Stelzer05/17/04
The trial of Sami Al-Arian, the USF professor who is accused of aiding terrorists, is scheduled to start in January. But if a court hearing held today is any indication, the legal arguments are so numerous that January may be too soon for lawyers prepare. WMNFÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Andrew Stelzer was at the federal courthouse in downtown Tampa and has this report.
Sami Al-Arian and one of his Ã¢â‚¬â€œco defendants Sameeh Hammoudeh, attended the hearing by videoconference; they could be seen in orange jumpsuits in a cell of Coleman prison, taking notes. There were also lawyers present for Co-defendantÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Hatim Naji Fariz and Bashir Musa Mohammed Nafi. Al-Arian lawyer, William Moffet, raised several issues with the judge about the way the federal government has conducted their case. The first item had to do with phone conversations being recorded. For several years, Al-Arians phone line was tapped, and so was FarizÃ¢â‚¬â„¢. When they spoke to each other, the conversation was taped on both ends; therefore two translations exist of these conversations, which were in Arabic. Al-Arians lawyer, William Moffet, found that the translations are different in many cases; he presented one to the court in which one translation was word for word, and the other was a summary, in which notes were inserted such as Ã¢â‚¬Å“they spoke about a suicide bombing sarcasticallyÃ¢â‚¬?. These subjective comments were included in the translations the government used to get the indictment against Al Ã¢â‚¬â€œArian, and his lawyer says the subjectivity of them is very suspect.
ACT Ã¢â‚¬Å“There are things like paraphrases and opinions in the indictments that arenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t appropriate...Ã¢â‚¬? Ã¢â‚¬Å“If you read the indictment, there are things that donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t have anything to do with the translationÃ¢â‚¬Â¦Ã¢â‚¬â„¢
Moffet requested the names of the government translators, so that he can call them as witnesses. The judge said he will consider this request for names, and asked both sides to begin supplying the other with their own translations on a regular basis.
Another item of contention is that the governmentÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s lawyers had previously written a letter to Al-Arians lawyers saying there were no informants in the case, but now they have admitted that there are in fact informants involved.
ACT Ã¢â‚¬Å“How are they doing this? Ã¢â‚¬Å“
Moffit called the governmentÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s work on this case Ã¢â‚¬Å“sloppyÃ¢â‚¬?, and has characterized them as uncooperative in providing information to the defense. Reporters also asked Moffit whether high level government officials will be called to testify about their contact with Al-Arian.Ã¢â‚¬?
ACT Ã¢â‚¬Å“Q and A about presidentÃ¢â‚¬Â¦Ã¢â‚¬?
Sameeh Hammoudeh lawyer also argued that incorrect information was presented at Mr HammoudehÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s bond hearing. The government showed proof that Hammoudeh had given 5,000 dollars to Khalil Shakaki. Khalils brother Fathi, was a member of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, which is listed aw a terrorist group and was himself assassinated in 1995. However, Khalil himself has never been called a terrorist, in fact he has worked as a researcher for the US government. Hammoudeh's lawyer, Stephen Bernstein argued that they connected his client to the wrong Shakaki and on that ground is calling for dismissal of HammoudehÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s indictment.
ACT Ã¢â‚¬Å“In the bond hearing, there was a $5,000Ã¢â‚¬Â¦Dr Khalil ShakakiÃ¢â‚¬Â¦Ã¢â‚¬? Ã¢â‚¬Å“Because his brother Fathi ShakakiÃ¢â‚¬Â¦Ã¢â‚¬? Ã¢â‚¬Å“HeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s not a terrorist..Ã¢â‚¬?
Perhaps in relation to the criticism being raised regarding Al-Arians and HamoudehÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s indictments, the governmentÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s lawyers also admitted today they plan to supersede their indictment. This means they can issue new charges and evidence, to clean up all of the mistakes made in the first one that might not stand up in court. Al-Arian and Hammoudeh will be transferred to Hillsborough county prison for a few days in June so that they can view videotapes with their lawyers.
For WMNF news, IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m Andrew Stelzer