Libyan al-Qaeda suspect returns to New York courtroom

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Suspected Libyan al-Qaeda leader Abu Anas al-Libi, seized earlier this month in a U.S. raid in Tripoli, was back in a New York courtroom on Tuesday, where his lawyer demanded at least six months to prepare his defense.

The 49-year-old Libi, who is accused in a pair of 1998 U.S. embassy bombings, maintains his innocence.

The 1998 al-Qaeda bombings of U.S. embassies in East Africa killed 244 people and wounded more than 5,000 others.

Throughout the hearing, Libi remained fixed ahead. At times he looked tired and worried, squinting his eyes in concentration, according to Agence France-Presse.

He spoke only once during the hearing, pulling a microphone towards him to say yes in Arabic when asked if he was satisfied with his legal representation.

His lawyer Bernard Kleinman said he would need “at least six months” to go through all the evidence and to consult his client, whom he said he had met for the first time only earlier on Tuesday.

Kleinman also denied claims from Libi’s son Abdullah al-Raghie that he was on hunger strike and reports that he had cirrhosis of the liver.

According to media reports, Libi suffers from hepatitis C, a condition of the liver, but has received treatment and his health is “fine,” Kleinman told reporters.

The prosecution said it had two computer hard drives and 35 DVDs of 275,000 unclassified documents and 10 boxes of classified evidence.

The government requested Tuesday that Libi be tried jointly with two other suspects indicted on the same charges -- Khalid al-Fawwaz and Adel Abdel Bary -- given overlapping evidence and witnesses.

Libi was detained by U.S. commandos in the Libyan capital on Oct. 5 and brought to New York, where he was indicted in 2000 to face trial, after being interrogated on board a U.S. warship.

Kleinman said Libi was “shocked” at having been “kidnapped” without proper legal procedure and “upset” over his interrogation.

“He doesn’t really understand what’s going on,” Kleinman said.

He also asked for the return of Libi’s Quran, annotated with personal religious notes, that was confiscated after his capture.

(With AFP)