(ABC News) A lawyer’s request that Jewish people be excluded from a jury that will hear a case of a suspected terrorist, accused of lying about plans to kill Americans in Afghanistan, was rejected today by a New York City judge.
“The judge denied my application,” Frederick Cohn, the lawyer representing Abdel Hameed Shehadeh, told ABC News.com.
Jury selection is expected to begin this week, but Cohn initially told federal Judge Eric Vitaliano in February that he planned to request a jury free of Jewish citizens.
“Your Honor . . . as you know, I’m not wild about having Jews on the jury in this case,” Cohn said at the time. “Given that there’s going to be inflammatory testimony about Jews and Zionism, I think it would be hard for Jews to cast aside any innate antipathy.”
By law jurors cannot be excluded from a jury based on race, gender or religion, a point prosecutors made in February.
“I don’t think [the magistrate overseeing jury selection] will be ready to violate the Constitution and exclude people from the jury on the basis of their religious beliefs,” prosecutor William Sarratt told the court, as first reported by the New York Post.
Shehadeh is not the first accused Muslim terrorist to rail against Jews in the jury box.
In 2010, Aafia Siddiqui, an American trained neuroscientist nicknamed “Lady Al Qaeda,” accused of killing American soldiers in Afghanistan and plotting an attack in New York, requested that prospective jurors be given DNA tests to exclude Jews.
“I have a feeling everyone here is them [Jews], subject to genetic testing… They should be excluded if you want to be fair,” she told federal Judge Richard Berman at the time.
Her request was denied and she was later convicted.