- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 6, 2002

RICHMOND A Pakistani man sentenced to death for the fatal shootings in 1993 of two CIA employees in Virginia deserves a new trial because his arrest in Pakistan violated an extradition treaty, his attorneys argued yesterday.
Mir Aimal Kasi's conviction was also flawed because Virginia courts failed to force the government to produce evidence that might weigh in his favor, the attorneys told a three-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
"What would you do, send him back and drop him off at the corner?" Judge Robert B. King asked attorneys Charles R. Burke and Richard J. Cromwell.
The U.S. Supreme Court rejected similar arguments in 1999.
Kasi opened fire with an AK-47 assault rifle outside CIA headquarters in Fairfax County during the Jan. 25, 1993, morning rush hour. CIA employees Frank Darling and Lansing Bennett were killed sitting in their cars at a stoplight.
Kasi had been living in Virginia, but returned to Pakistan the day after the shootings.
He eluded FBI agents for more than four years before they seized him in a hotel room in Pakistan and returned him to the United States. He confessed to the slayings during the return flight, saying he was angry over CIA meddling in Muslim nations.
Mr. Burke, one of Kasi's two court-appointed appeals attorneys, told the 4th Circuit judges that Kasi was "abducted" by the FBI. He said the FBI failed to follow procedures laid out in an extradition treaty with Pakistan.
Judge William W. Wilkins Jr. noted that the treaty did not specifically prohibit the FBI from seizing a wanted criminal and returning him to the United States.
Still, Mr. Cromwell said, the United States had notified Pakistan of its intent to extradite Kasi, thus setting in motion extradition procedures that the government failed to follow.
Senior Assistant Attorney General Katherine Baldwin disputed that. "There is simply no evidence whatsoever that extradition was ever formalized, that any documents were ever served on Kasi," she said.
Mr. Cromwell also argued that state prosecutors failed to review federal investigatory documents that may contain evidence beneficial to Kasi.
"I cannot cite a particular piece of evidence," Mr. Cromwell said when questioned by the judges. "I want to rummage through them and see what I can find."
"Kasi is asking for essentially a fishing expedition," countered Miss Baldwin.
Kasi's attorneys also argued that he failed to receive a fair trial in the Fairfax County Circuit Court because a juror did not speak up when jurors were asked if they had heard about the murder of four Americans in Pakistan soon after Kasi's trial began.
The juror later came forward and told the judge she heard a brief radio report on the murders before quickly turning off the radio.
Miss Baldwin told the judges that the juror "was thoroughly questioned on whether this would affect her ability to consider the case fairly."
Kasi told the Associated Press in a 1999 death-row interview that he was not a terrorist, but a political prisoner who "did my moral duty by attacking CIA." He said he had no regrets about killing Mr. Darling and Mr. Bennett.
Kasi said he would have preferred to have killed the director of the CIA. "I was not able to find his timing of coming and going," he said.


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