US judge sets plea deadline in airline attack

Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab has until August 19 to work out a plea agreement.

Last Updated: Apr 08, 2011, 13:42 PM IST

Detroit: A US judge on Thursday gave the Nigerian man charged with attempting to blow up a passenger airliner on Christmas Day 2009 until mid-August to negotiate a plea agreement, otherwise the case will go to trial.

Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, 24, is charged with trying to detonate a bomb hidden in his underwear on a Northwest Airlines flight as it approached Detroit from Amsterdam. He is due to go on trial in October.

US District Judge Nancy Edmunds gave Abdulmutallab, who is representing himself in court, until August 19 to work out a plea agreement if he wants to plead guilty, otherwise the trial would go forward.

US prosecutors had sought a mid- to late-July cutoff date.

The court previously entered a not guilty plea on his behalf, but Abdulmutallab in September asked the judge how he could plead guilty to some of the charges.

Abdulmutallab has been held in prison pending trial. He complained during the hearing that all of his reading material had been seized and he had been prevented from contacting his attorney adviser appointed to help him mount a defence. But he also repeated his desire to represent himself.

He previously told US investigators he had received the bomb, which failed to detonate fully, and training from al Qaeda militants in Yemen, US officials have said.

After the attempted attack, the Obama administration moved to strengthen US airline security by deploying full-body scanners to try to detect explosives that could be hidden in a passenger`s clothing.

The case is USA v Abdulmutallab, 2:10-cr-20005, US District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan.

Bureau Report