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U.S. judge grants new immigration fraud trial for Palestinian activist

Reuters

DETROIT (Reuters) - A federal judge in Detroit on Tuesday granted a new trial for a Palestinian activist charged with immigration fraud for failing to disclose that she had been imprisoned in Israel in connection with a 1969 supermarket bombing there, court officials said.

A U.S. appeals court earlier this year threw out the conviction of Rasmieh Yousef Odeh, saying that the trial court should have allowed expert testimony that she was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder due to torture in prison and did not know her statements to immigration officials were false.

Prosecutors had asked U.S. District Judge Gershwin Drain to reinstate her conviction. In rejecting that motion, Drain cleared the way for a new trial for Odeh, scheduled to begin on Jan. 10 in U.S. District Court in Detroit.

A spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney's Office in Detroit was not immediately available for comment on the ruling.

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Odeh was convicted in November 2014 of unlawful procurement of naturalization following a one-week trial. She was sentenced the following year to 18 months in prison and faced deportation following her release.

Federal prosecutors said she failed to reveal her criminal history when she immigrated from Jordan in 1995 and again when she was naturalized as a U.S. citizen in 2004.

Odeh and members of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine were convicted by an Israeli military court for the supermarket bombing and for placing a bomb at the British consulate in Jerusalem.

Odeh, 68, has said her confession to the bombing was the result of severe torture by the Israeli military, including rape and electric shocks.

Odeh's attorneys had argued that she not be imprisoned at all, citing her age, poor health, and chronic post-traumatic stress disorder.

(Reporting by Ben Klayman in Detroit; Additional reporting by Dan Whitcomb in Los Angeles; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)