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.