DETROIT (WWJ/AP) – A judge has postponed the sentencing of a Nigerian man who admits he brought explosives onto an airliner, hidden in his underwear.
Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab will get his mandatory life sentence on Feb. 16, convicted of trying to blow up an Amsterdam-to-Detroit flight on Christmas Day 2009.
U.S. District Judge Nancy Edmunds moved the sentencing to Feb. 16 to give Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab more time to review a pre-sentence report prepared by the U.S. Probation Department. But if passengers have conflicts and want to stick to the original date, there will be a hearing on Jan. 19 solely to take their statements.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Jonathan Tukel said at least seven people have expressed interest in speaking, just a fraction of the nearly 300 passengers and crew aboard Northwest Airlines Flight 253 on Christmas 2009.
Abdulmutallab, accused of working for the terrorist group al-Qaida, said he was retaliating for the U.S. treatment of Muslims around the world. He’s been in custody at a federal prison in Milan, Mich., since his arrest.
U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade said there is no deal in place for Abdulmutallab who surprised pretty much everyone in October when he changed his plea to guilty.
The 25-year-old is acting as his own lawyer.
The judge denied Abdulmutallab’s request to dismiss his standby counsel, Anthony Chambers, and grant him a new attorney to advise him, preferably a Muslim. Abdulmutallab said that they rarely talk and their relationship is strained.
Chambers denied the allegations. Edmunds said he would stay on the case.
“Mr. Chambers and his staff have done an extraordinary job … far more than what standby counsel usually does,” the judge said, adding that Abdulmutallab doesn’t even have a right to standby counsel if he’s representing himself.
Lori and Kurt Haskell, two suburban Detroit lawyers who were on Flight 253, said they would speak in court on Feb. 16. Kurt Haskell believes the U.S. government conspired with Abdulmutallab and outfitted him with an intentionally defective bomb.
On his blog, Haskell suggests Abdulmutallab will be “secretly released after sentencing.”
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