Hearings delayed for two arrested in pre-NATO raids

Reuters News
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Posted: Jun 11, 2012 6:36 PM
Hearings delayed for two arrested in pre-NATO raids

By James B. Kelleher

CHICAGO (Reuters) - A judge on Wednesday gave prosecutors more time to assemble their case against two men arrested on terrorism-related and possession of explosives charges ahead of the NATO summit.

Sebastian Senakiewicz, 24, is charged with making a false terrorist threat, and Mark Neiweem, 28, is charged with attempted possession of explosives or incendiary devices in the days leading up the North Atlantic Treaty Organization meeting on Sunday and Monday, which drew thousands of protesters to Chicago.

During two brief back-to-back hearings on Wednesday, Cook County Circuit Court Judge Adam Bourgeois Jr. granted the state's request to postpone until June 13 the preliminary hearings in both cases, which prosecutors say are unrelated.

According to court papers, Senakiewicz, who lives in Chicago but was born in Poland, bragged that he had two homemade explosives that could "blow up half of an overpass for a train" and that he planned to use them during the NATO conference.

Senakiewicz said the explosives were hidden in hollowed-out volumes of Harry Potter books at his home, court papers said. Based on his threats, police arrested him at his apartment, but found no explosives.

Neiweem, who is on probation for assaulting a police officer, is accused of attempting to buy the ingredients to make a pipe bomb, according to the court records.

His charging documents make no reference to the NATO summit or other possible targets or motives.

Outside court on Wednesday, one of Senakiewicz's two attorneys suggested a police informant got her client drunk and then egged him on to make the threat.

Three other men arrested in raids ahead of the summit on terrorism-related charges appeared in court on Tuesday.

Prosecutors said the three were caught making crude gasoline bombs and had discussed using them against several high-profile targets in the city, including President Barack Obama's campaign headquarters.

A preliminary hearing in their case of the men, dubbed the "NATO 3" by Chicago media, is scheduled for June 12.

Charging documents for Senakiewicz and Neiweem make no mention of a connection to the NATO 3 and prosecutors said the cases are unrelated.

But attorneys for the five men have said they believe the same two police informants were involved in all the cases and that their clients, who were arrested in pre-emptive raids ahead of the summit, were entrapped.

(Editing by Greg McCune and Cynthia Osterman)