The verdict of a federal judge

Acting at the request of prosecutors, a federal judge on Thursday dismissed the terrorism charges against two men convicted last year. But U.S. District Judge Gerald Rosen said in his order that the two men, as well as a third, must stand trial again on charges of document fraud. The judge's decision came after the government admitted widespread prosecutorial misconduct in the case and asked the judge to dismiss the terrorism charges. "It is an inescapable conclusion that the defendants' due process, confrontation and fair trial rights were violated," Rosen wrote. "There is at least a reasonable probability that the jury's verdict would have been different had constitutional standards been met." In a case the government had hailed as a victory against terrorism, Karim Koubriti, 26, and Abdel-Ilah Elmardoudi, 38, were convicted in June 2003 of conspiracy to provide material support for terrorism and to engage in fraud and misuse of visas and other documents. Ahmed Hannan, 36, was convicted of only the fraud charge, and Farouk Ali-Haimoud, 24, was acquitted. The government's change of heart, outlined in a filing late Tuesday night, came after a monthslong court-ordered review of documents connected to the case. The Justice Department uncovered several pieces of potentially exculpatory evidence that should have been given to the defense before trial, but were not, informs Detroit Free Press. According to Reuters, a U.S. court on Thursday dismissed the convictions of two Arab men, the first to be prosecuted and tried on terror-related charges following the Sept. 11 attacks, after the government conceded errors in handling the case. A U.S. District Court Judge in Michigan granted the wish of the U.S. Justice Department, which said in a filing this week that prosecutors "committed a pattern of mistakes and oversights" that hindered the defendants from reviewing evidence used against them. Although it dismissed the terror-related charges, the U.S. court also ordered a new trial on the lesser document fraud convictions for the three men. "We're pleased, but disappointed," said William Swor, an attorney representing Elmardoudi. "The (government) misconduct warrants the ultimate sanction of dismissal" of the document fraud charge, he said. U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft last year heralded the Detroit convictions as a clear message that the United States would work diligently to disrupt and dismantle terrorist "sleeper cells" at home and abroad. A special attorney assigned to review the convictions of three alleged members of a terrorist sleeper cell in Detroit found that the prosecution withheld numerous e-mails, photographs, witness statements and other items that undercut the government's case and should have been turned over to the defense, according to a 60-page memorandum filed in U.S. District Court in Detroit late Tuesday and released yesterday. The errors and possible misconduct were so rampant that there is "no reasonable prospect of winning" on appeal, according to the filing to U.S. District Judge Gerald Rosen. As a result, prosecutors agreed to a defense request for a new trial and will pursue only document fraud charges against the three defendants, two of whom were convicted of terrorism charges last year. The review by Craig S. Morford, a federal prosecutor in Cleveland, is particularly critical of the former lead prosecutor in the Detroit case, Richard Convertino, who, among other things, allegedly failed to turn over photographs to the defense and elicited testimony from witnesses that led the judge and other lawyers to believe they did not exist, reports the Washington Post. Read earlier news stories by PRAVDA.Ru

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Author`s name: Editorial Team