US drops charges against bin Laden

US judge approves request to "not prosecute" former al-Qaeda chief, in a common legal move following a defendant's death

    Bin Laden was never formally charged with the September 11, 2001, attacks in New York City [EPA] 

    Federal prosecutors in the US have dropped charges against Osama bin Laden from attacks spanning more than a decade, according to officials quoted in court papers filed in New York.

    Friday's move came following the al-Qaeda leader's death in May, closing a 13-year court case against the mastermind of the September 11, 2001, attacks.

    The charges included more than 200 counts of criminal activity such as murder, conspiracy to use weapons of mass destruction against civilians and more. However, none of the charges were related to the September 11 attacks.

    US District Judge Lewis Kaplan approved the request, issuing an order called "nolle prosequi", which means "do not prosecute" in Latin, a typical legal move once a defendant is deceased.

    The court order came six weeks after US commandos killed bin Laden at his hideout in a compound in the military garrison town of Abbottabad, just north of Islamabad, Pakistan. US prosecutors in New York began prosecuting him in June 1998.

    In a dozen indictments, prosecutors accused bin Laden of repeated actions against the US that included prompting Somali tribesmen to attack US military personnel in Mogadishu in 1993 and the 1998 car-bomb attacks on US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania that killed 224 people.

    Never formally charged

    Bin Laden was never formally charged with the 9/11 attacks that killed almost 3,000 people and put the US on a decade-long war footing with militants.

    Kaplan's order was issued following a formal request by the US justice department to dismiss charges against bin Laden.

    The request included an affidavit by a senior justice department official describing the May 1 military raid on bin Laden's hideout.

    The statement said DNA samples, facial recognition analysis and the confirmation of one of bin Laden's wives all confirmed the identity of the al-Qaeda leader.

    "These tests confirmed that the sample from the Abbottabad raid genetically matched the derived comprehensive DNA profile" for bin Laden, the official wrote in the statement.

    "The possibility of a mistaken identification is approximately one in 11.8 quadrillion."

    SOURCE: Agencies


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