A judge in Sacramento ordered an extradition hearing Monday for an Iraqi man suspected of being a terrorist and wanted in his homeland for allegedly shooting a police officer.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Edmund F. Brennan ordered the hearing to begin Feb. 25 to determine whether Omar Ameen should be sent back to Iraq to face trial on murder charges there.
The order is somewhat of a victory for both sides in the case. Prosecutors wanted an extradition hearing set to get the case moving forward, while Ameen’s attorneys argued that they need more time to investigate the case to try and show that Ameen was not in Iraq at the time of the slaying.
Chief Assistant Federal Defender Ben Galloway said his office’s efforts include hiring translators to go through Iraqi and Turkish documents and finding an investigator who can go to the region to investigate the case.
“We’re all here to make the right decision, do the right thing” Galloway said. “I have no doubt of that. But this takes time.”
Prosecutors had been asking for an extradition hearing to be set for December, noting that the United States would want a speedy response from Iraq if they were seeking to extradite someone from that country.
“The United States is under a treaty obligation with the government of Iraq,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Audrey Hemesath told the judge as Ameen sat handcuffed at the defense table listening through an interpreter.
Ultimately, Brennan decided his court schedule required the hearing to be set for late February and that it likely would last a day or two.
Brennan does not have the authority to order Ameen sent back to Iraq. Instead, he can determine whether enough evidence exists to support the murder charge. The final decision must come from Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
Ameen is currently in the Sacramento County Jail being held without bail. He was arrested at his Arden Arcade apartment in August after the Iraqi government requested his extradition in connection with the 2014 slaying of a police officer there.
Court documents filed by federal prosecutors describe Ameen as a terrorist leader with ties to Islamic State and al-Qaida, and say he helped make improvised explosive devices and captured and executed soldiers.
Prosecutors also say they have documents submitted by the Iraqi government that include “three sworn statements from firsthand witnesses who identified Amen as part of the group of armed ISIS fighters in Rawah, Iraq, that brutally murdered an Iraqi police officer.”
Ameen also has been accused of lying to gain admission to the United States in November 2014 by lying about his refugee status.
Ameen’s federal defenders say he was not in Iraq at the time of the killing and that if he is returned to his home country he faces near-certain execution by hanging.
This article is written by By Sam Stanton from The Sacramento Bee and was legally licensed via the Tribune Content Agency through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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