Prosecutor John Shipley, who had remained silent, declared: “We don’t know anything,” calling the defense attorney’s allegation “utterly false” and “extremely reckless.”
The war of words escalated when Wahid accused prosecutors of refusing to be discreet about mentioning the name of the Serena Hotel during testimony.
Again, Scola seemed even more astounded, telling Wahid: “Now, you’re going to say it wasn’t safe for you and the witnesses to be there? f I had known that, I wouldn’t let it happen at all,” the judge said. “I’m not going to risk your life even if you’re dumb enough to go there.”
Scola gave Wahid until Wednesday morning to get to the bottom of the problem. If it’s not resolved by then, he said, the defense attorney would have to come back to Miami later this week.
The live testimony of witnesses taken in a foreign country, piped via video into an American courtroom, is not unprecedented. But it is rare in federal court.
On Monday, Ali Rehman, a Pakistani shopkeeper also named as a defendant in the Miami indictment, testified that he and Hafiz Khan did not supply thousands of dollars to the Taliban to aid its terrorist mission against U.S. interests overseas.
Rehman testified that $35,000 sent by Khan to Pakistan was to help the Muslim cleric’s son-in-law operate a potato chip factory and buy a home, and that he and the imam were opposed to the Taliban’s use of violence to impose its strict version of Muslim law.
He was followed Tuesday by a suspected Taliban soldier named Noor Mohammed, who described himself as a street vendor with five children. “No, I never fought for the Taliban,” Mohammed testified before the live feed went dead.
The potential loss of future defense testimony in Pakistan could significantly affect the outcome of Khan’s trial.
If convicted, Khan faces up to 15 years on each of four charges alleging material support for the Taliban.
Two of Khan’s sons, including an imam from Broward, were also charged in the same case. But prosecutors dropped the charges against one, and the judge dismissed them against the other at trial for lack of evidence.