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Wednesday, Mar 29, 2017
Crime & Courts

Prosecution seeks trial delay for suspect in Tampa terror plot

— The prosecution is asking for a delay in the trial of a man accused of plotting a terrorist attack in Tampa, but the reason for the request is classified.

Sami Osmakac is scheduled to go on trial next week on charges of attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction and possession of an unregistered machine gun. He was arrested in January 2012 following an FBI sting operation. Authorities said he planned to attack a busy Tampa nightspot, then take hostages and demand the release of Muslim prisoners.

On Wednesday, the U.S. Attorney’s Office filed a motion with U.S. District Judge Mary Scriven asking her to postpone the trial until June 23. The motion refers to another motion filed under seal under the Classified Information Procedures Act, which governs court procedures when classified information is part of a criminal case.

The motion states that the prosecution consulted with defense attorney George Tragos, who took no position on whether he opposes the delay “as he was unaware of the substance of the government’s CIPA motion.”

Osmakac had been scheduled to go on trial in October, but that was delayed when questions arose regarding his mental competency. Scriven last week ordered another competency evaluation of Osmakac by the same psychologist who has previously found him competent to stand trial.

The use of classified information has already complicated the case. At the request of the prosecution, the judge will permit government’s key witness to testify under a veil of secrecy, which will include a screen that blocks gallery spectators from seeing him, as well as fake name and restrictions on the defense’s ability to ask him about his work in other cases and his background.

The defense is arguing Osmakac was entrapped and that because of mental illness, he was susceptible to being influenced.



Twitter: @ElaineTBO