Sheikh Moayad,companion await U.S. justice [Archives:2005/808/Local News]

January 17 2005

The U.S. Federal Court of Brooklyn had begun during the previous days the process for setting up a jury for trial of Sheikh Mohammed Al-Moayad, and his companion Mohammed Zayed, press sources in New York told reported in its last issue that the court in charge of the trial had conducted on January 10, 2005, a random selection from among 300 people in the local area, using election lists, before setting up the 12-member jury.

The sources said the court had prevented both the prosecution and the advocates of Al-Moayad and Zayed from attending the selection, but they will be allowed later to “participate in selecting the jury.”

According to the sources, the selection is gradual: some 300 people designated randomly through voter lists will be asked questions by the prosecution and the advocates of Al-Moayad and Zayed. The number will suffer attrition as both prosecution and defense have the right to exclude ten persons without stating reasons and exclude others with reasons.

The sources added that the judge is the one to finally decide the selection of the 12 American nationals nominated as jury, and other six as reserve. The jury will have the right to charge or acquit the detainees, but it is the judge who will decide the punishment. In this way, a convict will not be charged unless the jury unanimously agrees on that, but if a jury member believes he is innocent, then he will be acquitted.

The procedure may continue for over two weeks after which the trial will be set to motion. The court, currently surrounded by tightened security, will not mention the names of the jury members for safety reasons.

The jury consists of ordinary citizens residing in the state of New York, namely in Brooklyn, the district in which the court is situated. They will be chosen by a draw, and it is not conditional that any of them has legal expertise but the judge will inform them of the case and let them deliberate.

The sources said it is unlikely that FBI informant Mohammed Al-Ansi would be produced as a witness after discredit brought about by his setting himself aflame at the White House's gate on November 15, 2004. It was his protest against the US authorities' non-fulfillment of their promise to give him a sum of money in return for false information about Sheikh Al-Moayad he had offered.

The sources expected that the defense would concentrate on the recordings particularly the conversations between Sheikh Al-Moayad and Zayed during their stay in Germany.

The court had earlier agreed to one of two lawyers designated by the families of the detainees while the second is awaiting approval. They are to be supported by a Palestinian-American female lawyer.