March 4, 2002

Prosecutors to Simulate Blast in Shoe Bomber Case

BOSTON (Reuters) -- Prosecutors preparing for the trial of Richard Reid, accused of trying to blow up a transatlantic flight in December with bombs in his shoes, said on Monday they planned to recreate the explosive device and set it off before the trial.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Timothy Feeley told U.S. District Judge William Young that prosecutors wanted to use the simulation during Reid's trial to show jurors what the bomb could have done to the plane.

Feeley gave no details except to say investigators were trying to make the explosive resemble as closely as possible the type found in Reid's shoes.

Using videotapes or any other evidence from a simulated explosion was likely to be contentious. Young indicated he had not yet decided whether such material would be admitted at trial.

``We'll see,'' the judge said when prosecutors told him they wanted to detonate the device and introduce evidence from the simulation at trial.

Court-appointed lawyers for Reid, who did not attend the scheduling conference, declined to answer questions after the court hearing.


Young set a tentative trial date of Nov. 4. Lawyers will meet for another status conference June 3. Young is expected to hear arguments June 11 on a motion to suppress statements Reid made after being arrested.

Reid, 28, a Briton, was taken into custody on Dec. 22 after he was overpowered by flight attendants and fellow passengers on American Airlines Flight 63 from Paris.

He was tied up with belts and headphone cables after flight attendants saw him apparently trying to set fire to his shoes, which were later found to be packed with explosives.

The flight, carrying 197 people, was escorted by fighter jets to Boston, where it landed safely.

Reid has been charged with attempted murder, attempted homicide and attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction -- ''a destructive device consisting of an explosive bomb in each of his shoes.''

He faces a maximum penalty of life in prison if convicted.

A nine-count indictment handed up in Boston in January also charged Reid with placing an explosive device on an aircraft, attempted destruction of an aircraft, interfering with flight crew members and flight attendants, using a destructive device during a violent crime and attempted wrecking of a mass transportation vehicle.

Reid has pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Law enforcement officials have said Reid's shoes contained enough of a volatile and powerful plastic explosive called triacetone triperoxide, known as TATP, to blow a hole in the side of the aircraft if it had been detonated.

TATP is an explosive that can be made from nail polish remover, hair bleach and acid and has been found in the debris of car bombs and other explosions blamed on Palestinian guerrillas, according to the U.S. and Israeli officials.

Prosecutors said there is no evidence Reid had any accomplices on the plane and have been investigating to see if he has any links to a guerrilla network or if his act was meant as a follow-up to the Sept. 11 attacks on the United States.

Neither U.S. nor European officials have disclosed any connections between Reid and the al Qaeda network of Osama bin Laden, who is blamed by Washington for the Sept. 11 attacks.

But investigators have found that Reid worshiped at the same London mosque as Zacarias Moussaoui, a Frenchman of Moroccan descent who faces conspiracy charges in connection with the Sept. 11 attacks on the United States.

Copyright 2002. Reuters. All rights reserved.

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