Wednesday, September 01, 2004
U.S. Seeks to Dismiss Terror Convictions
Wed Sep 1,10:59 AM ET
By JOHN SOLOMON and CURT ANDERSON, Associated Press Writers
WASHINGTON - In a dramatic reversal, the Justice Department (news - web sites) acknowledges its original prosecution of a suspected terror cell in Detroit was filled with a "pattern of mistakes and oversights" that warrant the dismissal of the convictions.
In a 60-page memo that harshly criticizes its own prosecutors' work, the department told U.S. District Judge Gerald Rosen on Tuesday night it supports the Detroit defendants' request for a new trial and would no longer pursue terrorism charges against them. The defendants at most would only face fraud charges at a new trial.
The Justice Department is "concurring in the defendants' motions for a new trial" and asks the court to dismiss the first count of the original indictment charging the defendants with material support of terrorism, the government's filing said.
The reversal comes during the buildup to President Bush (news - web sites)'s nomination acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention, where he and his allies have been touting their success in the war on terror.
The department's decision came after a monthslong internal investigation uncovered several pieces of evidence that prosecutors failed to turn over to defense lawyers before the trial last year. The probe exposed deep differences within the government over the course of the case and the quality of the prosecution's evidence.