Judge in terror case mulls travel request

Oct. 30, 2012 at 10:16 AM
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MIAMI, Oct. 30 (UPI) -- A federal judge in Miami will determine whether defense attorneys for two imams accused of helping terrorists can travel to Pakistan to question witnesses.

During a hearing Monday, prosecutors said they objected to such travel "under any circumstances" before the trial begins in January, The Miami Herald reported.

"That's just unacceptable to the government," Assistant U.S. Attorney Pat Sullivan told U.S. District Judge Robert Scola during a hearing.

Scola already ruled it would be unsafe and not practical to take depositions of five defense witnesses at the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad with both sides present. But the federal judge left hanging the possibility of allowing defense lawyers to conduct live video depositions in Pakistan with the prosecutors participating in Miami.

Sullivan said such a scenario would prevent prosecutors from adequately cross-examining the witnesses. He also said there would be no way to impose perjury sanctions if the witnesses lied while testifying.

In a May 2011 indictment, prosecutors charged Hafiz Khan, 77, a imam of the Flagler Mosque in Miami; his son, Izhar Khan, 26, a former leader of a mosque in Margate, Fla.; the elder Khan's daughter, Amina Khan; her son, Alam Zeb; and Ali Rehman with conspiring to make available financial support for the Taliban from 2008 to 2010. Amina Khan, Zeb and Rehman are in Pakistan.

Defense attorneys want to question Amina Khan, Zeb, Rehman and an unindicted co-conspirator, who all said they won't come to the United States to testify at trial. The unindicted fifth witness is a Pakistani pharmacist prosecutors said received some of the money transfers from Hafiz Khan's foreign bank accounts.

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