Nigerian Bomb Suspect Sacks Lawyers


The young Nigerian who allegedly tried to blow up a US airliner over Detroit on Christmas  Day, 2009, fired his lawyers on Monday saying they would be biased and opted to represent  himself, reports the AFP.

Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, 23, was arrested on December 25, 2009 after an aborted attempt to  ignite explosives hidden in his underwear as his flight from Amsterdam came in to land in  Detroit, Michigan.

He appeared in good health on Monday as he quietly entered the courtroom accompanied by US  marshals, his hands cuffed behind his back.

Dressed in gray-green prison garb, he looked straight ahead, making no eye contact with  reporters or observers.

After he spoke briefly with his attorneys, one of them then told the court the suspect  wished to act as his own counsel.

“I don’t feel any representation I get would represent me in a way that is in my best  interest,” Abdulmutallab then told Judge Nancy Edmunds.

The judge advised him against the move, telling him they were “very experienced lawyers who  have dedicated their entire lives to the defense of those accused by the government of  wrongdoing.”

She also went through the counts against him, asking if he was aware of the consequences of  acting as his own attorney.

Abdulmutallab told her he was familiar with the court procedures, but appeared less than  certain on some points.

“Do you realize that if you decided to take the witness stand, you must present your  testimony by asking questions to yourself?” Edmunds asked.

“I guess so,” he responded.

He asked Edmunds if it was possible for him to plead guilty to “some” of the charges against  him.

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“If I want to plead guilty to some counts, basically, how would that go?” he said.

“That is one of the reasons I’m appointing a stand-by counsel, to help you answer questions  like those questions, okay?” she said.

Edmunds had been expected to set a trial date during the Monday hearing, but instead  scheduled another status conference for October 14.

She approved a request filed by Abdulmutallab’s legal team seeking more time to file defense  motions, but after the Nigerian’s decision to fire his attorneys it was unclear whether the  extra time would still be needed.

Abdulmutallab, who is currently being held at a federal detention center in Milan, Michigan,  was quickly whisked from the courtroom.

Security around the Detroit courthouse was beefed up during the hearing, with dozens of  officers, including some with automatic weapons and bullet-proof vests, surrounding the  building.

Abdulmutallab pleaded not guilty at his arraignment in January to six terrorism-related  charges, including the attempted murder of 290 people on board the plane and trying to use a  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 into  his underwear, which failed to detonate aboard the Northwest flight from Amsterdam to  Detroit.

While the explosive device appeared to have been flawed, the attack was also thwarted by  passengers and crew, who tackled and restrained Abdulmutallab before he was escorted off the  plane in Detroit.

The foiled bombing triggered global alarm, leading the United States to adopt stringent new  screening and security measures at airports around the world.

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