The trial of American Taliban John Walker Lindh will begin on Aug. 26, the judge in the case ruled Friday.
U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis rejected an earlier recommendation by the defense and prosecutors that the trial begin in mid-November, and also said he hoped the case could be as open as possible.
Lindh, 21, did not speak during the hearing. Wearing a green prison suit, he sat at the defense table throughout the federal court proceeding. During a brief recess, he spoke with his attorneys and signed papers.
Lindh faces a 10-charge indictment. He pleaded not guilty to all the charges, including one that he conspired to kill Americans abroad. He faces a maxiumum sentence of life imprisonment.
Defense attorney George Harris asked the judge for a Sept. 16 trial date to get past Sept. 11.
"There will be memorial services. There will be a great deal of genuine emotion in this country," he said. "The government has attempted to make that connection (between the trial and the attacks). For us to be in trial at that time is prejudicial to the defendant."
Harris said there was in fact no connection between the attacks and the Lindh case, but contended that Attorney General John Ashcroft had attempted to link his client to the terrorist attacks.
Ellis told Harris, "I may be persuaded by the force of your argument. You may revisit this point" as the August date approaches.
The judge, however, said he rejected defense concerns that pretrial publicity would be prejudicial against Lindh and told Harris he would take care to ensure that no jurors would be selected who had formed an opinion about the case.
Lindh has been held in a detention center since he was brought here Jan. 23 and was recently denied bond. His parents, Frank Lindh and Marilyn Walker, were present riday, as they have been all of his previous court appearances.
Lindh, who converted to Islam as a teen-ager, was captured in late November 2001 by U.S. forces sent to Afghanistan after the Sept. 11 attacks on America.
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