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Friday, 15 February, 2002, 22:12 GMT
'American Taleban' faces August trial
John Walker Lindh
Walker Lindh faces life in prison
John Walker Lindh, the "American Taleban", is set to go on trial in late August after a US judge turned down a defence request to wait until after the anniversary of the 11 September attacks on America.

Virginia District Judge TS Ellis rejected defence lawyers' claims it would be unfair to Mr Lindh to open the trial so near the anniversary.

There will be memorial services - there will be a great deal of genuine emotion in this country

Defence lawyer George Harris

"There will be special care to ensure that any jurors who are selected have not formed an opinion on this case," the judge said.

However, he did say he would be willing to reconsider the matter closer to the trial date, set for 26 August.

Mr Walker Lindh, 21, has pleaded not guilty to charges that he conspired to kill Americans and aided terrorists while a soldier with the ousted Taliban in Afghanistan.

He faces life imprisonment if found guilty.

His lawyer, George Harris, had asked the judge for a 16 September trial, to avoid a clash with the 11 September anniversary.

"There will be memorial services. There will be a great deal of genuine emotion in this country. For us to be in trial at that time is prejudicial to the defendant," he said.

Smile for parents

Mr Walker Lindh, wearing a green prison suit, did not speak at the hearing.

John Walker Lindh
Mr Walker converted to Islam aged 16
He nodded occasionally to his lawyers and smiled to his parents when he left the courtroom.

His lawyer said there was no connection between the 11 September attacks and his client's case, but Attorney General John Ashcroft had attempted to make such a link.

Mr Walker Lindh's parents, Frank Lindh and Marilyn Walker, were present at the hearing, as they have been all of his previous court appearances.

Mr Walker Lindh is charged in a 10-count indictment with conspiring to kill Americans, providing support to terrorists, including Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda, and using firearms during crimes of violence.

Three of the charges carry a maximum life sentence and the other seven could bring an additional 97 years in prison.

See also:

07 Feb 02 | Americas
'American Taleban' had Yemen hopes
06 Feb 02 | Americas
'American Taleban' faces new charges
24 Jan 02 | Americas
'American Taleban' appears in court
24 Jan 02 | Americas
Profile: John Walker Lindh
16 Jan 02 | Americas
US Taleban suspect 'refused lawyer'
16 Jan 02 | Americas
Walker Lindh's strange odyssey
14 Dec 01 | Americas
Enigma of 'American Taleban'
05 Dec 01 | Americas
US shocked by 'American Taleban'
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