Judge's warning starts beheading trial

Nov. 6, 2012 at 12:23 PM
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RALEIGH, N.C., Nov. 6 (UPI) -- The trial of a North Carolina man charged with hiring a hit man to behead witnesses from a previous trial ended its first day with a reprimand from the judge.

Hysen Sherifi, 28, representing himself, began his opening remarks Monday alternating between Arabic and English, praying and reading from the Koran, The Charlotte (N.C.) Observer reported.

U.S. District Judge Earl Britt stopped him after 15 minutes and told him that while he understood Sherifi wanted to express opinions about his religion, "Any further comments you make to the jury must be related to the facts of the case."

Sherifi replied that his statement had been intended to warn Britt that he had "transgressed against the laws of Allah."

"I'm willing to take my chances," the judge responded.

Sherifi is being tried on charges he, his brother and a teacher conspired to have three government informants killed and beheaded. Testimony from the informants in a 2011 trial resulted in Sherifi being convicted of conspiring to commit terror at home and abroad.

He was sentenced to 45 years in prison.

None of the informants was harmed. The FBI learned of the conspiracy and doctored photographs so that one of them appeared to have been beheaded.

The brother and the teacher who provided the money to pay the hit man also have been convicted in the case. They are expected to testify against him in exchange for lighter sentences.

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