No bomb found; federal courthouse in Washington DC to reopen

Wednesday, September 27th 2006, 11:05 am
By: News On 6

WASHINGTON (AP) _ A federal courthouse within sight of the Capitol was set to reopen early Wednesday afternoon after authorities determined that an abandoned suitcase at the building entrance did not contain a bomb.

The building had been evacuated Wednesday morning when a police dog trained to detect explosives alerted to the softsided suitcase found near a construction trailer outside the E. Barrett Prettyman Federal Courthouse.

U.S. Marshals were to brief reporters on the incident before the building reopened.

Sheldon Snook, chief of staff to Chief Judge Thomas Hogan, said fire alarms were sounded and the building was cleared shortly after 9:30 a.m. EDT as a precaution.

Law enforcement officials reopened Constitution Avenue, which runs next to the courthouse, after shutting it to traffic for two hours.

Evacuation of the courthouse occurred shortly before a hearing was to begin in the CIA leak case. The hearing was reset for 1:30 p.m.

Special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald and about eight of his associates were forced to leave the building and join more than 100 others on the sidewalks nearby.

The defendant in the case, former White House aide I. Lewis ``Scooter'' Libby, and his legal team arrived a short time later and joined the throng outside the courthouse.

The judges of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia were moved across the street to the Superior Courthouse.