Suspect Can Be Examined for Signs of Torture
Judge Grants Request for Physical, Mental Evaluations
Wednesday, March 30, 2005; 1:20 PM
A U.S. man accused of plotting with al Qaeda to kill President Bush can be examined by doctors for any evidence of torture while he was being held in Saudi Arabia, a federal judge ruled Wednesday.
U.S. District Judge Gerald Bruce Lee granted Ahmed Abu Ali's request for physical and mental evaluations to see if there is any evidence of torture.
Lee said Abu Ali had to inform the court by April 25 if he was planning to introduce evidence of torture or claims about his mental and physical health as part of pre-trial motions or during the trial.
Abu Ali has pleaded not guilty to a six-count indictment charging him with providing support and resources to al Qaeda.
In June 2003, Saudi officials arrested Abu Ali, then a student at a Saudi university, and him held in Riyadh for 20 months until his return to Virginia last month after being indicted by a federal grand jury.
Abu Ali and his family have claimed he was tortured during his detention in Saudi Arabia. His lawyers have said Abu Ali has scars from whip marks on his back.
Federal prosecutors said there was no credible evidence to support the claims and said Abu Ali never mentioned that he was being treated badly to U.S officials who visited him in jail in Saudi Arabia.
His family filed a lawsuit last year claiming the U.S. government had Abu Ali arrested and held unlawfully by Saudi Arabia without charges. That pending case in Washington is separate from the case being heard by Lee in Virginia.
In a hearing earlier this month, an FBI agent testified that Abu Ali had admitted he joined al Qaeda while studying in Saudi Arabia.
The agent said Abu Ali admitted to Saudi officials that he discussed plans to kill Bush. He said he also admitted discussing with al Qaeda members plans to carry out possible Sept. 11-like hijackings and other attacks on or in the United States.
REUTERS Reut13:20 03-30-05