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Published: Wednesday, 3/8/2006

Deadline imposed in local terrorism case

BY MARK REITER
BLADE STAFF WRITER

The federal judge presiding over the trial of three Toledo area men accused of planning terrorist activities overseas yesterday gave prosecutors until the end of the month to file affidavits used to obtain search warrants for the investigation.

The deadline for submitting the sworn statements of law enforcement officials was among the orders issued by U.S. District Judge James Carr following a telephone conference with attorneys and assistant U.S. attorneys to discuss the status of the case.

The defendants - Marwan Othman El-Hindi, Mohammad Zaki Amawi, and Wassim I. Mazloum - were not at the hearing. They are being held in the federal prison in Milan, Mich.

They were arraigned last month before magistrates in Toledo and Cleveland and pleaded not guilty to charges that they conspired to help kill or injure people in the Middle East.

Yesterday's status conference, which lasted over an hour, was Judge Carr's first dealing with the case.

The affidavits, which spell out the government's reasons for serving search warrants at homes and businesses for the investigation, must be filed with the court by March 31. The order said prosecutors could ask the court to seal the contents of the documents.

Attorneys who participated in the conference said Judge Carr didn't set a trial date for the defendants, but he suggested a date could be scheduled when a similar conference is held April 17.

"He didn't want to set a trial date at this point until we got a better handle on discovery," said Stephen Hartman, an attorney representing Mr. El-Hindi.

Judge Carr also deferred a decision on holding the trial at the courthouse in Toledo or changing the venue to the courthouse in Cleveland until security issues could be reviewed by the U.S. Marshals Service and discussed with the parties in the case, the attorneys said.

Mr. Hartman said Judge Carr also was asked to address the federal agents' using warrantless wiretaps on their phones to monitor their conversations with clients.

The order from Judge Carr gave prosecutors until March 15 to advise the court if the government was recording the phone communications beyond the routine monitoring in prisons.

A deadline of March 31 also was imposed on Thomas Getz, an assistant U.S. attorney in Cleveland, and Greg Sofer, an assistant U.S. attorney in Washington, to begin sharing evidence obtained in the investigation with the defense attorneys.

William Edwards, first assistant U.S. attorney for the Northern District, said later that his office would comply with the discovery.

"All the evidence they are entitled to will certainly be made available to them," he said.

Contact Mark Reiter at:

markreiter@theblade.com

or 419-213-2134.



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