[JURIST] The US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit [official website] ruled [opinion, PDF] Wednesday overturned the 22-year sentence of Ahmed Ressam [Wikipedia profile], convicted of attempting to blow up Los Angeles International Airport on the eve of the millennium. The court reversed Ressam's conviction for carrying explosives while committing a felony, one of the nine charges of which he was found guilty. The case will now be remanded to the lower court for a new sentence and explanation consistent with Rymer's ruling. The felony in question was lying on the customs form, which Ressam filled out when he crossed into the United States from Canada with 124 pounds of explosives in his car. Judge Pamela Rymer held that the prosecution did not prove carrying the "explosives show how aided or emboldened" Ressam to give a fake name.
After his conviction in 2001, Ressam provided the government with information that trial Judge John Coughenour called "startlingly helpful". In July 2005, Coughenour sentenced Ressam to 22 years in prison [JURIST report] for his crimes. The government appealed [JURIST report] the sentence a month later, complaining it was too lenient. Since federal judges are given wide discretion in sentencing, the Ninth Circuit remand does not mean Ressam's sentence will necessarily be reduced. AP has more.