DETROIT (AP) - A judge put more restrictions on the defense Tuesday and refused to delay the trial of a Chicago activist who became a U.S. citizen without disclosing her convictions for bombings that killed two people in Israel in 1969.
Rasmieh Odeh, associate director at the Arab American Action Network in Chicago, served 10 years in an Israeli prison for bombings at a Jerusalem market and at the British Consulate. But in 2004, she answered “no” on U.S. immigration forms when asked if she’d ever been convicted or sent to prison.
Odeh, 66, said she was tortured by the Israeli military into confessing and claims she had post-traumatic stress disorder when she filled out the citizenship application decades later.
U.S. District Judge Gershwin Drain believes Odeh may have been tortured, but he barred her lawyers from raising PTSD as a defense at trial, which starts Nov. 4. The jury also won’t hear from a psychologist who made the diagnosis, and Odeh won’t be allowed to testify about torture or PTSD.
“Her guilt or innocence in ‘69 or ‘70 is just not relevant. … I’m not going to retry that case,” the judge said.
Drain said the only issue is whether Odeh knowingly lied about her past when she applied for citizenship. If convicted, she faces deportation.
“He made it a very narrow case,” defense lawyer Michael Deutsch acknowledged outside court.
In May, with a different lawyer, Odeh turned down a plea deal that would have capped any prison sentence at six months and allowed her to remain free in the U.S. for an additional six months before being deported, an unusual benefit.
Odeh also is known in Chicago as Rasmea Yousef.
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