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Padilla ruled competent to stand trial

[JURIST] US District Judge Marcia Cooke [official profile] ruled Wednesday that alleged terrorist Jose Padilla [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] is competent to stand trial, rejecting defense arguments that he often cannot assist his attorneys because he suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) [NIMH backgrounder] due to nearly four years of incarceration in a military brig. Cooke noted that Padilla understands "legal nuances" and that he has been able to discuss his case with his lawyers. Prosecutors argued that Padilla purposely refused to cooperate at times, following resistance methods he allegedly learned at an al Qaeda training camp in Afghanistan. Last week, forensic neuropsychiatrist Dr. Angela Hegarty testified that Padilla's PTSD rendered him incapable of assisting in his defense [JURIST report], but admitted on cross examination that on some portions of her tests Padilla scored zero on PTSD. Previously, the US Bureau of Prisons [official website] evaluation that concluded Padilla was fit to stand trial [JURIST report].

Padilla, a US citizen, was arrested in 2002 at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport and subsequently detained as an "enemy combatant" [JURIST news archive] at a Navy military brig in Charleston, South Carolina. Initially accused of planning to set off a radioactive "dirty bomb" [NRC factsheet] in the United States, Padilla went from enemy combatant to criminal defendant when he was finally charged [JURIST report] in November 2005 on unrelated counts of supporting terrorist activity. He was transferred to civilian custody [JURIST report] in January 2006 and has pleaded not guilty [JURIST report] to the charges. AP has more.

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