NEW YORK (CN) – The 2nd Circuit has refused to reconsider the conviction of an Algerian man who conspired with the “Millennium Bomber” to blow up the Los Angeles International Airport on New Year’s Day 2000.
The court upheld the July 2001 conviction of Mokhtar Haouari, who was sentenced to 24 years in prison. Haouari wanted the court to review his case on the grounds that Ahmed Ressam, the mastermind of the scheme and a key witness against Haouari, had recanted his testimony.
Ressam stopped cooperating with the government in 2003. Six years after Haouari’s trial, Ressam sent the U.S. Attorney’s Office an unsworn letter – dated March 28, 2007 – in which he claims that he was mentally incompetent when he testified against Haouari, and that Haouari “is an innocent man.”
Recantations are often met with suspicion, the court said, “and suspicions are even greater when, as here, the recanting witness is one who was involved in the same criminal scheme and, having received the benefit of his cooperation agreement, now sits in jail with nothing to lose by recanting.”
The circuit dismissed his petition, ruling that the new evidence does not satisfy the requirements of federal antiterrorism law. See ruling.