14th September, 2010
The young Nigerian who allegedly tried to blow up a US airliner over Detroit on ChristmasÂ Day, 2009, fired his lawyers on Monday saying they would be biased and opted to representÂ himself, reports the AFP.
Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, 23, was arrested on December 25, 2009 after an aborted attempt toÂ ignite explosives hidden in his underwear as his flight from Amsterdam came in to land inÂ Detroit, Michigan.
He appeared in good health on Monday as he quietly entered the courtroom accompanied by USÂ marshals, his hands cuffed behind his back.
Dressed in gray-green prison garb, he looked straight ahead, making no eye contact withÂ reporters or observers.
After he spoke briefly with his attorneys, one of them then told the court the suspectÂ wished to act as his own counsel.
â€œI donâ€™t feel any representation I get would represent me in a way that is in my bestÂ interest,â€ Abdulmutallab then told Judge Nancy Edmunds.
The judge advised him against the move, telling him they were â€œvery experienced lawyers whoÂ have dedicated their entire lives to the defense of those accused by the government ofÂ wrongdoing.â€
She also went through the counts against him, asking if he was aware of the consequences ofÂ acting as his own attorney.
Abdulmutallab told her he was familiar with the court procedures, but appeared less thanÂ certain on some points.
â€œDo you realize that if you decided to take the witness stand, you must present yourÂ testimony by asking questions to yourself?â€ Edmunds asked.
â€œI guess so,â€ he responded.
He asked Edmunds if it was possible for him to plead guilty to â€œsomeâ€ of the charges againstÂ him.
â€œIf I want to plead guilty to some counts, basically, how would that go?â€ he said.
â€œThat is one of the reasons Iâ€™m appointing a stand-by counsel, to help you answer questionsÂ like those questions, okay?â€ she said.
Edmunds had been expected to set a trial date during the Monday hearing, but insteadÂ scheduled another status conference for October 14.
She approved a request filed by Abdulmutallabâ€™s legal team seeking more time to file defenseÂ motions, but after the Nigerianâ€™s decision to fire his attorneys it was unclear whether theÂ extra time would still be needed.
Abdulmutallab, who is currently being held at a federal detention center in Milan, Michigan,Â was quickly whisked from the courtroom.
Security around the Detroit courthouse was beefed up during the hearing, with dozens ofÂ officers, including some with automatic weapons and bullet-proof vests, surrounding theÂ building.
Abdulmutallab pleaded not guilty at his arraignment in January to six terrorism-relatedÂ charges, including the attempted murder of 290 people on board the plane and trying to use aÂ weapon of mass destruction.
He faces a maximum penalty of life imprisonment if convicted.
The son of a prominent Nigerian banker, Abdulmutallab allegedly had explosives stitched intoÂ his underwear, which failed to detonate aboard the Northwest flight from Amsterdam toÂ Detroit.
While the explosive device appeared to have been flawed, the attack was also thwarted byÂ passengers and crew, who tackled and restrained Abdulmutallab before he was escorted off theÂ plane in Detroit.
The foiled bombing triggered global alarm, leading the United States to adopt stringent newÂ screening and security measures at airports around the world.