The letter seems like the kind of thing a legal defense team would pounce on: In it, an inmate says a key government witness confessed he lied to federal agents about a Detroit terrorist sleeper cell. The Justice Department held that evidence close to the vest — a circumstance that now threatens to derail a case hailed as an early success in the Bush administration’s war on terror. The December 2001 letter from an imprisoned drug gang leader, which could have been used by defense lawyers to challenge the witness during the trial this spring, wasn’t turned over until a couple of weeks ago. The defendants are now asking that their convictions be overturned, and U.S. District Judge Gerald Rosen, who presided over the two-month trial, has scheduled an emergency hearing Friday to demand an explanation from the government. “The government engaged in a persistent and pervasive pattern of misconduct that deprived the defendants of their due process right to a fair trial and undermined the integrity of the court,” defense lawyers argued. Full Story
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