Suspect moves to block jury seeing airline bomb model

Reuters News
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Posted: Sep 21, 2011 11:43 AM
Suspect moves to block jury seeing airline bomb model

DETROIT (Reuters) - The accused underwear bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab has "vehemently" objected to plans by prosecutors to show a model of the device he is charged with attempting to use to blow up a passenger airliner on Christmas Day 2009.

"Abdulmutallab vehemently objects to the government introducing a model of the bomb," Anthony Chambers, who is Abdulmutallab's stand-by attorney, said in documents filed late on Tuesday with the U.S. District Court in Detroit.

"Presenting the jury with a model of the bomb is unfairly prejudicial, and is only meant to inflame the jury and appeal to the jurors' emotions," Chambers added, in asking that the evidence be excluded.

Chambers said the government's pictures of the remnants of the bomb would achieve its goal. The trial is set to start on October 11.

Abdulmutallab, 24, is charged with trying to detonate the device on a Northwest Airlines flight as it approached Detroit from Amsterdam, a scare that prompted U.S. authorities to quickly ramp up aviation security. He is representing himself in court.

The Nigerian man previously told U.S. investigators he had received the bomb, which failed to detonate fully, and training from al Qaeda militants in Yemen, U.S. officials have said.

After the attempted attack, the Obama administration scrambled to strengthen U.S. airline security by deploying full-body scanners to try to detect explosives that could be hidden in a passenger's clothing.

Also on Tuesday, Chambers objected in the filing to the government's planned use of three video recordings showing an explosives expert combining and detonating materials Abdulmutallab is charged with using to create his bomb, saying the demonstrations were not conducted under similar conditions to the alleged attempted bombing.

Abdulmutallab also filed two handwritten letters, one of which included his objection to the planned use by prosecutors of a matyrdom video recorded by the suspect that includes a clip of former al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden calling him a hero.

"As non-Muslims, the government and its expert witnesses cannot understand the meaning of the video," Abdulmutallab wrote.

"The government and its witnesses do not know how it is produced, why it is produced and what it means because they do not understand the Quran," he added.

Jury selection in the case is scheduled to begin on October 4, with the trial to follow on October 11.

The case is USA v Abdulmutallab, No. 10-cr-20005, U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan.

(Reporting by Ben Klayman in Detroit; Editing by Jerry Norton)