Court Declares Terrorist's 17-Year Sentence Too Short
Alleged 'dirty bomb' maker's sentence 'a clear error'
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 19, 2011 6:59 PM CDT
In this Jan. 5, 2006 file photo, Jose Padilla, center, is escorted to a waiting police vehicle by federal marshals near downtown Miami.   (AP Photo/J. Pat Carter, File)

(Newser) – A federal appeals court voted 2-1 today to throw out the 17-year sentence handed to alleged “dirty bomber” Jose Padilla, saying that it was too low given his criminal history and the threat he poses. “Padilla’s sentence of 12 years below the low end of the Guidelines range reflects a clear error of judgment,” the majority wrote in their ruling, according to ABC News. “Padilla poses a heightened risk of future dangerousness due to his al-Qaeda training.”

The dissenting judge said she disagreed, because overturning the sentence “simply substitutes this Court’s sentencing judgment for that of the trial judge, in whom that authority inheres.” When Padilla was arrested in 2002, John Ashcroft accused him of plotting to blow up a dirty bomb, but when he was eventually brought to trial in civilian court, there was no mention of a bomb—he was merely accused of being part of a cell that funneled recruits and cash to al-Qaeda and other terrorists. A new sentencing hearing will be scheduled.