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Judge declares "underwear bomber" competent to represent himself

Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab
Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab

A U.S. District Court judge says the Nigerian-born man accused of trying to blow up a Detroit-bound airliner nearly two years ago can represent himself at trial.

So-called “underwear bomber” Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab has been acting as his own lawyer in pre-trial hearings. But he also has court-appointed standby counsel.

That attorney had filed a motion asking that Abdulmutallab undergo an exam to determine whether he’s competent to represent himself.

After grilling Abdulmutallab about the charges he faces, Judge Nancy Edmunds ruled he can continue representing himself with standby counsel.

Federal prosecutors are clearly uncomfortable with the arrangement. They’re particularly concerned about Abdulmutallab’s ability to make statements to the jury, without ever having to testify.

Jury selection is to begin September 14. A trial date is set for October 4.

Sarah Cwiek joined Michigan Radio in October 2009. As our Detroit reporter, she is helping us expand our coverage of the economy, politics, and culture in and around the city of Detroit.
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