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Attorneys for Mohamed Odeh Speak After He's Sentenced to Life with No Parole

Aired October 18, 2001 - 11:45   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BILL HEMMER, CNN ANCHOR: While Trent Lott continues talking with reporters there on Capitol Hill live, to downtown New York, where attorneys for Mohamed Odeh now speaking. He was just sentenced to life if prison with no parole.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There are no questions?

No.

QUESTION: Just general reaction...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We going to file a notice of appeal on his behalf. We raised some issues that we really would prefer to leave inside the court. Given the circumstances that have recently befell on the city, we think it would be more appropriate to leave the arguments raised on behalf of Mr. Odeh in the court room, as opposed to hear in the public.

QUESTION: Did your client have sympathy for the Americans killed in the World Trade Center bombing and in the African embassy bombing?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That hasn't been a subject we have discussed with him at all.

QUESTION: Does he stand by what he did, what he was connected to?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He stands by the fact that he is a member of Al Qaeda, but he asserts his innocence to the charges in which he was convicted of. But he does assert that he is a member of Al Qaeda, and remains committed to Al Qaeda.

QUESTION: What is it meant to be innocent, and yet be a member of the terrorist organization?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The two don't mean guilt. That something the judge explained to the jury before the jury deliberations in the case.

QUESTION: Can you explain that? That might surprise a lot of Americans, thinking that someone admitting to be a soldier of Al Qaeda is not guilty of being a terrorist.

CARL HERMAN, SADEEK ODEH ATTORNEY: Have you to remember in the course of this trial, which was a trial on under our system of justice, and under our system of justice, the jury was asked to make certain determinations. And in this case, Mr. Odeh's membership in Al Qaeda did not automatically make him guilty of the crimes with which he was charged.

QUESTION: Other members of Al Qaeda who have been sentenced here in the past defended terrorism, admitted they were terrorists. One of his codefendants said he would have killed more Americans if was no captured. What is your reaction to this?

ANTYONY RICCO, SADEEK ODEH ATTORNEY: To another defendant's statement? I have a hard time keeping up with Mohamed Odeh. I really don't have a reaction, as a lawyer, to the statements that are made by other defendants in the case.

QUESTION: As a citizen, do you have a reaction you want to make public?

RICCO: Not really. I don't think it would be appropriate.

QUESTION: And also what will nob happen to the defendant's life in prison. What type of conditions. Defendants here have been restrained from any communications with the outside world...

HERMAN: Not sure. That's a determination that will be made by the Bureau of Prisons, and we will be assisting Mr. Odeh in the administrative proceedings along those lines.

RICCO: But most of the men who have been convicted in this courthouse of acts of terror are under very restrictive conditions. And we tend to think the same would happen to Mohamed Odeh.

HERMAN: We don't expect any less.

QUESTION: What message do think this conviction and the sentence carries today to Al Qaeda, to the terrorists, who are still out there, maybe in this country and to those Afghanistan.

RICCO: I think it really sends a more important message to our country, that we are a country of laws. We a country where people have a right it trial, they a have a right to have attorneys work on their behalf.

I think the more powerful message is really to us. This trial is really about us, and it's really about showing that we have a system of laws, and that system will be put to the test and the system will work. We are going to carry on with Mr. Odeh's appeal, and will be litigating the issues that we raise in the district court of appeals.

QUESTION: You actually think that he has a shot an appeal?

RICCO: I think Mr. Odeh, like any defendant, has a chance before our court of appeals. It's a court that will listen to the issues and render what it thinks is a fair decision. But in particular, to the kinds of issue that we raise on behalf of Mr. Odeh, we really think it would be more important to raise those issues in the courtroom. QUESTION: Is he showing any remorse at all?

HERMAN: You know, I want it just say that, with respect to this whole issue, we've sent a message, America has sent a message to the world, not just to ourselves, but to the world, that no matter what happens, our system of justice will go forward. No matter what's done, our system of justice will go forward. People will be represented to the fullest extent of the law, and we will make a determination on guilt or innocence based on our system of justice.

Thank you.

HEMMER: Quickly to summarize, there are four men, four followers of Osama bin Laden, who have been tried, and today is their sentencing day. To this point, three of the four have been sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. You just would heard two of attorneys representing Mohamed Odeh, second from the right in this picture here, Jordanian descent, 36 years of age, found to have aces of TNT and other plastic explosives on his clothing. You heard also the comment that he says still he is committed to the cause of Al Qaeda, and as a member of Al Qaeda, that commitment remains. It was back in August of 1998 when two U.S. embassies were bombed in Eastern Africa, one in Kenya, the other in Tanzania; 224 lost their lives that day in August, twelve of whom were Americans.

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