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Homeland Security

Opening Statements to Begin in Jose Padilla Terror Trial

14 May 2007

Opening statements are set to begin Monday in the trial of alleged al-Qaida supporter Jose Padilla in the southern U.S. state of Florida.

Prosecutors have accused the 36-year-old American and two co-defendants of conspiring with Islamic extremists around the world in terror plots. Padilla denies all charges.

U.S. officials had initially accused Padilla of plotting to detonate a radioactive "dirty bomb" inside the United States, but those allegations are not a part of his indictment.

Padilla's lawyers say he was tortured during the three-and-a-half-years he was held in U.S. military custody in South Carolina.

Padilla was arrested in Chicago in May 2002 upon his return from Egypt and Pakistan. President Bush declared him an enemy combatant and ordered him held in military custody.

Last month, a U.S. federal judge in Miami rejected a motion to dismiss terrorism charges against Padilla, saying his allegations of torture while in confinement have no bearing on the case.

Padilla's lawyers argue that their client suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder from his detention, and that he is unable to remember details or assist his counsel.

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