Judge rejects Ressam request to limit case

Associated Press

SEATTLE — A federal judge has refused to drop a charge of international terrorism against Ahmed Ressam, an Algerian accused of attempting to bring bomb-making materials into the United States.

U.S. District Judge John Coughenour’s Tuesday ruling was his third rejection of defense attempts to scale back the government case.

Ressam, 32, was arrested last December in Port Angeles after U.S. Customs Service agents reported finding bomb-making chemicals and equipment in his rented car.

Federal prosecutors believe he was part of a wide-ranging conspiracy, mostly consisting of Algerian nationals living in the United States and Canada.

In early September, Ressam’s attorneys argued that the international terrorism count was vague and confusing. They also challenged a charge that he violated a state statute against conspiring to damage public structures.

Prosecutors countered that the overriding federal law banning conspiracies to commit terrorist acts "is the gist of the crime."

Coughenour also denied a defense motion to compel the Canadian and French governments to search for and turn over any evidence that might be favorable to Ressam.

The last of the September defense motions, regarding the admissibility of fingerprint and laboratory evidence, won’t be decided until early next year.

In March, Coughenour denied defense motions to dismiss charges that Ressam illegally possessed a firearm and smuggled explosives into the country.

Ressam’s trial is scheduled to begin March 12 in Los Angeles.

Copyright ©2000 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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