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Embassy bombing defendants ask to suppress evidence

Mohamed
Khalfan Khamis Mohamed was indicted on December 16, 1998, on charges he was tied to the U.S. embassy bombings in Tanzania and Kenya  

NEW YORK (CNN) -- Two more defendants await rulings on whether their post-arrest statements and other evidence against them will be admitted or thrown out of the trial stemming from the August 1998 bombings of U.S. Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.

The defendants, alleged Kenya bomber Mohamed Sadeek Odeh and alleged Tanzania bomber Khalfan Khamis Mohamed, have filed suppression motions, court documents show. They join a third defendant, alleged Kenya bomber Mohamed Rashed Daoud al-'Owhali, in seeking the exclusion of certain evidence.

Mohamed's lawyers were thought to have submitted their final briefs on suppression for U.S. District Court Judge Leonard Sand on Friday.

According to a heavily edited transcript of Wednesday's hearing, proceedings focused on al-'Owhali's suppression motion. The Mohamed motion is sealed, so what his attorneys seek to suppress and why is unavailable for public review.

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The Odeh suppression motion is also sealed. An earlier unsealed version of it filed by his attorneys last year, however, reveals their argument -- that his statements were coerced and he made them without the benefit of consulting counsel.

On the day of the embassy bombings, August 7, 1998, Odeh was arrested at the airport in Karachi, Pakistan, trying to enter the country with a fake passport. Pakistani police interrogated Odeh for more than a week before sending him back to Kenya, where he was interrogated for 12 days.

During this period, Odeh's original suppression motion claimed, authorities read him his constitutional rights only in English, while Odeh, a 35-year-old Jordanian, speaks Arabic. The interrogations were conducted in English with no interpreter, Odeh said.

Investigators had never advised Odeh he could have a lawyer, according to the motion. A document shown to Odeh by an FBI agent stated, "Because we are not in the United States, we cannot ensure that you will have a lawyer appointed for you before any questioning."

U.S. agents told Odeh if he insisted on a lawyer, they would leave him alone with Kenyan police, who had a reputation for physically harming suspects, according to the motion.

"Kenyans told him that if he didn't talk, they would take him to a forest and hang him upside down until he told them what they wanted to hear," the motion says.

"They told Mr. Odeh that they would take him to a garden in the city, tell people he was responsible for the bombing, and allow them to cut him to pieces," the motion says.

In an affirmation supporting suppression, Odeh stated: "I knew the Kenyan police tortured and killed detainees. I felt I had no choice but to sign the piece of paper giving up my rights. This was not a voluntary choice."

While Odeh was detained in Kenya, police arrested and jailed his pregnant wife.

"I feared the Kenyans would carry out their threats against me if I failed to cooperate, and because I feared my wife would be harmed unless I gave them information," Odeh said in his affirmation.

FBI agents say Odeh told them he was an active member of al Qaeda, the reputed terrorist network allegedly run by Saudi exile Osama bin Laden, that he believed al Qaeda carried out the embassy bombings, and that as a member of the group he accepted responsibility for the bombings.

FBI agents say Odeh told them he learned how to use explosives in al Qaeda's camps, after joining the group in 1992. Odeh told the agents, they say, that he trained Islamic fighters in Somalia who were opposed to United Nations intervention there.

Attacks on U.S. troops in October 1993 killed 18 Americans stationed in Mogadishu, Somalia -- a part of bin Laden's decade-long conspiracy to kill Americans, according to the indictment behind the embassy bombings trial. Last month the fourth defendant standing trial, Wadih el Hage, lost motions to suppress evidence gathered during warrantless searches of his Kenya home and wiretaps on his telephone lines.

Jury selection resumes Monday.



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RELATED SITES:
Links to United States Embassies and Consulates Worldwide
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Dept of State/International Information Programs:
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US District Court, Southern District of New York
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