NEW YORK (AP) — A federal judge ruled Tuesday that the self-described architect of the Sept. 11 attacks will not be allowed to testify in the terrorism trial of Osama bin Laden's son-in-law, but defense lawyers later asked him to reconsider.
U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan firmly rejected a request by the lawyers to call Khalid Sheikh Mohammed as a witness at the trial of Sulaiman Abu Ghaith using live, closed-circuit video from Guantanamo Bay, where Mohammed is imprisoned.
At a hearing during an off day at Abu Ghaith's trial, Kaplan told the defense that the testimony would be irrelevant because there was no evidence that Mohammed and Abu Ghaith had ever met or even been in the same country. He also criticized Abu Ghaith's lawyers for making the request at such a late stage.
"I have considered this very carefully," Kaplan said. "This is much ado about nothing."
When defense attorney Stanley Cohen stood to try to argue further, Kaplan ordered him to sit down.
"Too little, too late," the judge said in a stern tone. "It's not here. It's denied."
Prosecutors had pointed to a recent written statement by Mohammed that he would refuse to testify in the case as another reason to deny the defense request to call him as a witness. But shortly after the ruling, Cohen sent the judge a letter saying he had received word from Mohammed's lawyer that Mohammed had now "agreed to be examined without limitation on all relevant topics." There was no immediate response from the government or the judge.
Abu Ghaith has pleaded not guilty to charges he conspired to kill Americans and aided al-Qaida as the terror group's spokesman after the Sept. 11 attacks. The 48-year-old onetime imam at a Kuwaiti mosque was brought to New York from Turkey last year.