Court Voids 2 Terrorism Convictions
Blow to administration as Yemeni defendants get a new trial
By Jason Farago,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 3, 2008 7:26 AM CDT
An appeals court has overturned the convictions of two men the Bush administration calls terrorists.   (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
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(Newser) – An appeals court yesterday overturned the verdicts of two men convicted of terrorist offenses in a case once hailed by the Bush administrations as a major triumph, the New York Times reports. The court ruled that inflammatory and irrelevant testimony prejudiced the trial of a Yemeni cleric and his assistant. The case will now return to the lower court—but the appellate judges took the rare step of assigning it to a new judge.

Mohammed Ali Hassan al-Moayad and Mohammed Mohsen Yahya Zayed were convicted in 2005 of several offenses, including conspiracy to support al-Qaeda and Hamas, and were sentenced to a "supermax" prison. The case made headlines when the government's star witness set himself on fire outside the White House. But the appeals court ruled that much evidence, including graphic testimony from a Tel Aviv bus bomb survivor, "was almost entirely unrelated" to the charges.