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Accused plane bomber fires lawyers, inquires about possible guilty plea

Nigerian national Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab [BBC profile; JURIST news archive], accused of attempting to set off an explosive device on a flight last December, fired his lawyer on Monday and inquired about the process for pleading guilty. Abdulmutallab indicated to the US District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan that he did not believe his lawyers were serving his best interest [Reuters report] and that he would prefer to represent himself. Federal Judge Nancy Edmunds cautioned Abdulmutallab about proceeding without representation and questioned him for approximately 30 minutes regarding his knowledge of the law and criminal procedure. She ultimately allowed Abdulmutallab to dismiss his court-appointed lawyers, although she indicated that she believed the decision was not wise. Edmunds appointed a lawyer to act as an adviser [CNN report] to Abdulmutallab and told him that the lawyer would be able to advise him regarding the proper procedure for pleading guilty. Proceedings in the case are scheduled to resume October 14.

Abdulmutallab faces multiply charges relating to the attempted bombing. In January, he pleaded not guilty after being indicted [JURIST reports] on six counts for allegedly attempting to set off an explosive device on Northwest Airlines Flight 253 bound from Amsterdam to Detroit. The charges [JURIST report], filed in December, include attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction, attempted murder within the special aircraft jurisdiction of the US, willful attempt to destroy or wreck an aircraft, willfully placing a destructive device on an aircraft, use of a firearm/destructive device during and in relation to a crime of violence, and possession of a firearm/destructive device in furtherance of a crime of violence.

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