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Al-Arian update: Prosecution likely to seek retrial

After he was acquitted on eight of 17 counts in his terrorism conspiracy trial in early December, former USF professor Sami Al-Arian is still in custody, awaiting the government’s decision whether to retry him on the remaining nine counts.

In court on Jan. 6, federal prosecutor Terry Zitek said that “it would be correct to assume that we’re going to continue,” but added that while the government is “inclined at this point to continue the proceedings, we haven’t made a final decision.”

When Judge James S. Moody asked the prosecutor whether the government’s case would be ready by late March or early April, Zitek said he would prefer more time but it was “theoretically possible.” Due to the court’s upcoming schedule, the next available start date wouldn’t be until August, Moody said.

Zitek said the possible retrial could take two months. That means Al-Arian, who has been in custody since February 2003, could possibly be in jail for at least another 10 months.

While Al-Arian’s lawyers weren’t specific, they hinted at a prospect of a deal between the defense and prosecution.

“There is a real possibility a judge could make a decision that could resolve everything,” said Al-Arian’s lawyer William Moffitt.

— Staff Report