Padilla attorneys want competency hearing delayed; claim report is erroneous

Saturday, February 10th 2007, 6:13 pm
By: News On 6

MIAMI (AP) _ Attorneys for suspected al-Qaida operative Jose Padilla have asked a judge to delay a Feb. 16 competency hearing, saying they need more time to investigate a report that concludes he is fit to stand trial on terrorism charges.

Federal prosecutors described the conclusions from the report by the U.S. Bureau of Prisons in court documents filed Friday. Padilla can understand the court proceedings and communicate with his attorneys, making him fit for trial, according to prosecutors' description.

But defense attorneys said in a motion they want access to the people and documents reviewed by the doctor who concluded Padilla was competent, and claim there are ``factual inaccuracies.''

Padilla, a 36-year-old U.S. citizen and former Chicago gang member, claims he was tortured in custody, and his lawyers say he is suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder that raises questions about his competence for trial, allegations that federal officials deny.

President Bush designated him an enemy combatant, and Padilla was held without criminal charges at a Navy brig for more than three years. Padilla is charged with being part of a North American cell that provided cash, supplies and recruits to Islamic extremists.