Last week, Cooke refused to dismiss the terror charges based on Padilla's allegations that he was tortured. Padilla, a US citizen, was arrested in 2002 at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport and subsequently detained as an "enemy combatant" at a Navy military brig in Charleston, South Carolina. Initially accused of planning to set off a "dirty bomb" in the United States, Padilla went from enemy combatant to criminal defendant when he was finally charged in November 2005 on unrelated counts of conspiracy to murder US nationals and supporting terrorist activity. He was transferred to civilian custody in January 2006 and has pleaded not guilty to the charges. In February, Padilla was ruled competent to stand trial.
The trial of Jose Padilla and two co-defendants on terrorism charges began Monday with jury selection. Defense attorneys have expressed concern that potential jurors may have been tainted by early accusations that Padilla had planned to set off a radioactive "dirty bomb", an allegation not among the charges against Padilla, and that jurors might associate the defendants with the Sept. 11 attacks. US District Judge Marcia Cooke has instructed prosecutors to only refer to Sept. 11 in a limited manner, but barred them from implying that Padilla or his co-defendants were involved.
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