United States v. Rezaq

134 F.3d 1121 (1998)

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United States v. Rezaq

United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit
134 F.3d 1121 (1998)

  • Written by Tammy Boggs, JD

Facts

Omar Mohammed Ali Rezaq (defendant) was a member of a Palestinian terrorist organization. In 1985, Rezaq and two other men boarded an Air Egypt flight, hijacked it, and forced the plane to land in Malta. Rezaq murdered or injured a number of passengers, including American citizens. Rezaq pleaded guilty to various crimes relating to the hijacking incident in Malta and was sentenced to 25 years in prison. For unknown reasons, Rezaq was released after only seven years in prison. Rezaq was supposed to travel through Nigeria to Sudan but in Nigeria was taken into custody by agents of the United States government and transported to the United States, where he was charged with aircraft piracy. In preparation for trial, the government identified arguably discoverable, classified materials. Under procedures of the Classified Information Procedures Act (CIPA), the government initiated in camera proceedings in which the government provided the court with classified documents for the court to determine what it considered discoverable. Then, under the court’s supervision, the government provided Rezaq’s attorney with a substituted summary of each classified document rather than the classified document itself. At trial, Rezaq did not contest the facts underlying the hijacking incident but relied on the defenses of insanity and obeying military orders. Rezaq presented lay and expert witness testimony regarding his childhood and development of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The jury convicted Rezaq, and he was sentenced to life imprisonment. Rezaq appealed, requesting the court of appeals to review the government’s summaries of classified information because the CIPA process had not allowed for his counsel’s participation.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Wald, J.)

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