U.S. prosecutors, lawyers for plotter seek sentencing delay

Reuters News
Posted: Jul 08, 2014 12:38 PM

By Zachary Fagenson

MIAMI (Reuters) - Federal prosecutors and lawyers for Jose Padilla, who in 2007 was convicted of terrorism-related crimes, asked to delay sentencing for a fourth time after an appeals court in 2011 ruled his initial 17-year sentence too lenient.

In a joint motion filed Monday prosecutors and attorneys said they needed more time to find and review thousands of pages of classified documents they intend to use during Padilla’s re-sentencing, now set for early October.

United States District Court Judge Marcia Cooke in Miami in 2008 rejected prosecutors' argument that Padilla, a former Chicago gang member turned al Qaeda recruit, deserved a life sentence. Cooke said that while serious, Padilla did not commit acts of terrorism on U.S. soil, nor attacks on officials or a plot to overthrow the U.S. government.

Padilla’s past 17 arrests and murder conviction make him a career criminal who deserves "at or near the maximum term," according to a Feb. 5 motion filed by prosecutors.

Padilla was arrested in 2002 returning to Chicago from abroad and accused of plotting to detonate a radioactive "dirty bomb" in a U.S. city.

He was never charged with plotting the attack. Then-President George W. Bush ordered him to be held as an "enemy combatant" and interrogated in a South Carolina military prison.

In August 2007 Padilla and two co-defendants were convicted on unrelated charges of conspiracy to murder, kidnap and maim people abroad, conspiracy to provide material support for terrorism, and providing material support for terrorism.

Padilla, in a 2012 Supreme Court appeal that was eventually rejected, said he was held in isolation for more than three years, shackled for hours in painful positions, and subjected to prolonged periods of constant light followed by total darkness.

Since then the case has languished in Miami federal court and Padilla has been held in a "supermax" prison in Florence, Colorado.

(Editing by David Adams and Bill Trott)