A Collaboration with the University of Pittsburgh

Federal appeals court upholds life sentence for Bush assassination plotter

The US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit [official website] on Tuesday affirmed [opinion, PDF] the life sentence of Ahmed Abu Ali, a US citizen who joined al Qaeda while studying abroad in Saudi Arabia. Abu Ali was convicted in November 2005 on nine charges [JURIST report] related to conspiracy to commit terrorist acts, including plotting to assassinate then-president George W. Bush. Attorneys for Abu Ali argued that the life sentence was unconstitutional and procedurally and substantively unreasonable, though the court ruled that the sentence fell within "well-established boundaries" and did not reflect an abuse of discretion.

Abu Ali's original sentence of 30 years imprisonment [JURIST report], imposed in March 2006, was increased to life [Reuters report] following a successful appeal in 2008 brought by the US Department of Justice [official website]. Sentencing proceedings were initially delayed [JURIST report] to allow lawyers in the case time to investigate whether evidence against Abu Ali had been obtained through warrantless domestic surveillance. His conviction came after a federal judge denied Abu Ali's motion to suppress his confession, which he claimed was a byproduct of torture [JURIST reports] at the hands of Saudi Arabian domestic security police. The Saudi Arabian government denied the torture allegations [JURIST report]. Abu Ali, arrested in 2003, pleaded not guilty at trial, which commenced [JURIST reports] in October 2005.

About Paper Chase

Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

© Copyright JURIST Legal News and Research Services, Inc., 2013.