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Nigeria Seeks To observe U.S. Trial Of Abdul Mutallab

Source: JEREMY PELOFSKY, REUTERS. - thewillnigeria.com
PHOTO: FAROUK UMAR ABDUL MUTALLAB.
PHOTO: FAROUK UMAR ABDUL MUTALLAB.
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The government of Nigeria on Monday asked a U.S. court for permission to formally observe proceedings against a Nigerian man to ensure he receives a fair trial on charges of trying to blow up a U.S. airliner.

The Nigerian man, Umar Farouk Abdul Mutallab, has been accused of trying to blow up a U.S. commercial airliner on Christmas last year with a bomb hidden in his underwear. He was subdued by the flight crew and passengers before it exploded.

Abdul Mutallab, who has been cooperating with U.S. authorities, told investigators he was trained by militants in Yemen affiliated with al Qaeda and that they gave him the bomb, officials have said.

Abdulmutallab has been charged with six counts, including attempted murder and the attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction. A federal judge entered a not guilty plea on his behalf in January.

The government of Nigeria has "zero tolerance for terrorism," a lawyer said in a filing in a federal court in Michigan, but asked the judge overseeing the case for permission to observe the proceedings because it involves extensive and complex legal issues.

That would enable Nigeria to ensure that Abdul Mutallab "is accorded a fair trial, due process of law, effective assistance of counsel and that his trial is in accordance with acceptable international standards without compromising the official position of the government of Nigeria," the filing said.

It would also provide the government of Nigeria easy access to the court filings and evidence that may have an impact on ties with the United States, according to the filing.

A Justice Department spokesman declined to comment and a representative for the Nigerian Embassy in Washington was not immediately available for comment.

A pretrial conference is slated for Tuesday in Detroit.

The failed attack forced the Obama administration to ramp up airline security and overhaul intelligence community activities after authorities discovered they had bits of information that could have helped detect Abdulmutallab before he boarded the plane.

The case is USA v. Abdul Mutallab in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, No. 10-cr-20005.