NY terrorism case defendant gets new prosthetics

AP News
Posted: Mar 15, 2013 6:42 PM

NEW YORK (AP) — An Egyptian Islamic preacher with no hands who was extradited from Great Britain to face terrorism charges was having trouble adjusting to new plastic prosthetics he received Friday to replace metal hooks he had brought with him from England, a lawyer said.

Mustafa Kamel Mustafa was disappointed with the new devices, said attorney Joshua Dratel after his client appeared without prosthetics at an afternoon hearing in federal court in Manhattan.

Dratel said the prosthetics were "not accomplishing what he needs to accomplish," including gripping things in his cell that he more easily picks up with his hooks.

Mustafa was brought to the United States last year to face charges that he conspired with Seattle men to set up a terrorist training camp in Oregon. He also is charged with helping to abduct two American tourists and 14 other people in Yemen in 1998. He has pleaded not guilty. His trial is scheduled for March 2014.

Lawyers have complained repeatedly that enough accommodations are not being made to help Mustafa in the prison, located next to the courthouse in lower Manhattan, but there were signs beyond the arrival of the new prosthetics that efforts were being made.

U.S. District Judge Katherine B. Forrest said a major issue had been resolved with an arrangement to provide Mustafa with a laptop computer to review evidence in his cell. She called it an "unusual accommodation" that she had not heard of before and she complimented the Metropolitan Correctional Center for its role in making it happen. Another defense lawyer, Lindsay Lewis, said Mustafa had not yet received the laptop.

The judge also said the new prosthetics ultimately may provide Mustafa relief from some of the pain caused by wearing the old prosthetics or from the times when he has not been permitted to use the metal hook devices.

Plans were made for an occupational therapist to visit Mustafa and help with any issues related to the new prosthetics, the judge was told.

Forrest was hesitant to make all the demands on prison officials that defense lawyers had requested, including requests for a new toilet and other improvements to his cell.

She said the prison was "not a hotel and so you don't get clean sheets and everything upon demand."