U.S. District Judge Says Confession Under Torture Legal
Judge Rejects Bush Plot Suspect's Request
By MATTHEW BARAKAT
Associated Press Writer
10/25/05 -- -- ALEXANDRIA, Va. (AP) - A federal judge ruled Monday
that prosecutors can use a confession by a man charged with joining
al-Qaida and plotting to assassinate President Bush, despite defense
claims that the confession was obtained through torture.
The ruling came after a six-day hearing in which Ahmed Omar Abu Ali
testified that Saudi Arabian security officers whipped his back,
kicked him in the stomach and pulled on his beard to obtain a
U.S. District Judge Gerald Bruce Lee issued a one-page ruling and
said he would explain his reasoning in a forthcoming order.
Abu Ali's lawyers wanted the confession tossed out and the entire
case dismissed. But Lee's ruling means the trial will go forward
this week, with jury selection Tuesday and opening statements as
early as Thursday.
During the hearing, the judge reviewed photographs of Abu Ali's back
that showed thin lines or scars that the 24-year-old said were proof
of a flogging. Prosecutors argued the faint markings could have been
caused by anything and might have been self-inflicted to bolster a
Prosecutors also argued that Abu Ali's confession was voluntary,
citing the 13-minute videotape in which he made jokes and pantomimed
the use of an assault rifle.
In the confession, Abu Ali said he joined al-Qaida because he hated
the United States for its support of Israel. He said he discussed
numerous potential plots with his al-Qaida cell members, including
plans to assassinate Bush, conduct a Sept. 11-style attack using
planes hijacked from outside the United States, establish an al-Qaida
cell inside the U.S. and free Muslim prisoners held at Guantanamo
Abu Ali, of Falls Church, was born in Houston and graduated from an
Islamic high school in Virginia in 1999. He is charged with joining
al-Qaida while studying in Saudi Arabia.
The government also cited testimony by Saudi security officers in a
deposition conducted in July in the kingdom. The officers said Abu
Ali confessed almost immediately during his first interrogation when
confronted with evidence obtained from other cell members.
One officer likened him to ``a bag of water'' spilling its contents
once poked with a hole.
Abu Ali was arrested in June 2003 while taking final exams at the
Islamic University of Medina. He said he was tortured the next day
after he refused many times to speak with interrogators.
Abu Ali also confessed to FBI agents in September, but prosecutors
have acknowledged that confession is invalid because they
disregarded Abu Ali's request for an attorney.
The hearing did not delve into whether Abu Ali was telling the truth
when he confessed. His lawyers have argued in court papers that he
gave a false confession to stop the torture. Abu Ali testified that
``many of the things were false'' in his confession.
Abu Ali is charged with conspiracy to assassinate the president,
conspiracy to commit aircraft piracy, providing material support to
al-Qaida and other crimes. He faces up to life in prison if
© Guardian Newspapers Limited 2005
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