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Padilla defense requests competency hearing before trial

[JURIST] Defense counsel for alleged terrorist Jose Padilla [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] have filed a motion asking a federal judge in Miami to hold a hearing to decide whether or not Padilla is competent to stand trial. Recent evaluations of Padilla by a psychiatrist and clinical psychologist suggest that Padilla is suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder from his years in detention which is affecting his ability to assist his lawyers prepare his defense. According to the affidavit of Dr. Angela Hegarty, Padilla's "reasoning is clearly impaired and paranoid tendencies are evident throughout the interviews." Prosecutors said Wednesday that there was "sufficient cause" for a competency hearing and have urged the judge to grant the defense request to avoid a conviction being overturned on appeal.

Padilla, a US citizen initially suspected of planning to set off a "dirty bomb" in the United States and classified in 2002 as an "enemy combatant" [JURIST news archive] subject to indefinite detention, was finally charged [JURIST report] last year on unrelated terrorism charges. He was transferred to civilian custody [JURIST report] in January of this year and has pleaded not guilty [JURIST report] to the charges. His trial is scheduled to begin [JURIST report] January 22. Last week, Padilla's attorneys indicated that they will use a recent video as evidence that charges against Padilla should be dismissed due to "outrageous government conduct" [JURIST report]. AP has more. The New York Times has additional coverage.

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