Government Rejects Suspected Terrorist's Speedy Trial Claim

Prosecutors and Jose Padilla's lawyers have been fighting over what should happen at the suspected terrorist's trial. His attorneys argue the deadline for a speedy trial has long passed, and that he should be excused. Monday, the government disagreed.

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STEVE INSKEEP, host:

All right, here's one more chapter in the life of Jose Padilla. He's the American who was arrested as a material witness to terrorism and then labeled an enemy combatant; then accused of planning to detonate a dirty bomb, then kept in a naval prison for three years. This case went to the Supreme Court twice. And last year, the Justice Department indicted him and sent him to Miami for a criminal trial.

NPR's Ari Shapiro brings us up to date on what's happening now.

ARI SHAPIRO: For the last few months, Jose Padilla's lawyers and prosecutors have been fighting over what should happen at Padilla's trial. He's charged with supporting terrorism. His attorneys don't think he should have a trial at all. They told the court in Florida that the deadline for a speedy trial has long since passed, and they say Padilla was consistently tortured for nearly the entire three years and eight months of his detention. They say that alone is enough reason to throw the case out.

Yesterday, the government fired back. They said, as for the speedy trial, the clock starts ticking from Padilla's indictment in 2005, not his detention three years earlier. And they denied that Padilla was ever tortured. In fact, they say he got halal meals and medical treatment when he needed it. But they say even if he was mistreated, that's no reason to throw the case out.

The trial is scheduled to begin in late January.

Ari Shapiro, NPR News.

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