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Wednesday, June 12, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Judge Sets Date for Iranian Bomb Plot Trial

NEW YORK (CN) - A federal judge refused to push back the trial date of a man accused of conspiring with a senior Iranian official - and an undercover informant -- to assassinate a Saudi ambassador on U.S. soil.

Slated for Oct. 22, the trial will start one day shy of a year after the suspect, Mansour Arbabsiar, pleaded not guilty before U.S. District Judge John Keenan.

"If that's not long enough to prepare a case, then I've been in the wrong place my entire professional career," said Keenan, who was born in 1929.

Arbabsiar's attorney Sabrina Shroff explained that the case is unusually complicated.

As in several recent terrorism cases, a confidential informant plays a prominent role in the 21-page complaint.

Arbabsiar allegedly met in May with a confidential informant posing as an associate of a "large, sophisticated and violent" Mexican drug cartel.

This informant, not named in the complaint, was previously convicted on state drug charges that prosecutors dismissed in exchange for his service as a paid source for the Drug Enforcement Administration, prosecutors say.

Arbabsiar allegedly told the informant in a later meeting that he wanted to attack a Saudi Arabian Embassy, in a plot that authorities say was code-named "Chevrolet." Eventually, Arbabsiar and the informant changed targets to a restaurant in Wash., D.C., prosecutors say.

"The indictment is complex," Shroff said at a Tuesday hearing.

Judge Keenan will let her submit a letter to him asking him to push back the trial.

"If your letter convinces me, fine," he said.

The judge was likewise impatient about the prosecutors' failure to turn over all records to Shroff.

"I don't understand why her discovery has not been supplied," Keenan said.

The government must turn over the remaining records by March 9.

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