Detroit judge quits case over share in Israel stores

Detroit judge quits case over share in Israel stores

US District Judge Paul Borman recently learned his family had an investment in the SuperSol supermarket Rasmieh Odeh helped bomb in 1969

Rasmieh Yousef Odeh (photo credit: AP/Charles Rex Arbogast, File)
Rasmieh Yousef Odeh (photo credit: AP/Charles Rex Arbogast, File)

DETROIT — A Detroit federal judge withdrew Tuesday from the case of a Palestinian immigrant accused of lying about her role in a fatal terrorist attack, saying he just learned his family had an investment in the Jerusalem supermarket she helped bomb in 1969.

U.S. District Judge Paul Borman issued an order recusing himself from the immigration fraud case against Rasmieh Odeh. The 67-year-old, also known as Rasmea Yousef, is associate director at the Arab American Action Network in Chicago. A hearing before Judge Gershwin Drain was scheduled for Sept. 2.

An Israeli military court convicted her for two bombings, one of which killed two men at a SuperSol store. She spent 10 years in prison before Israel released her in a prisoner swap with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.

Borman, who is Jewish, refused an earlier request by Odeh’s lawyers that he step down from the case on the basis of his long history of involvement with the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit and his likely contacts with the Israeli military and its court system.

But Borman said that federal prosecutors gave him additional information Monday on the Israeli bombing case against Odeh that made him change his mind.

“Yesterday, the government provided the court with an English translation of the Israeli indictment,” he wrote in his order Tuesday. “The Israeli indictment … charges defendant Rasmieh Odeh and two co-defendants with involvement in the plan to place ‘explosives in the hall of the SuperSol in Jerusalem.'”

“At the time of the 1969 bombing, my family had a passive financial investment connection to SuperSol,” the judge wrote. “There was no family involvement in the operations of SuperSol. Further, there is no present family passive financial investment connection to SuperSol.”

Borman’s family owned the former Detroit-based Farmer Jack grocery chain.

Borman said he remains confident he could continue treating Odeh fairly but said his family’s investment “could be perceived as establishing a reasonably objective inference of a lack of impartiality in the context of the issues presented in this case.”

U.S. authorities accuse Odeh of failing to mention her conviction and time in prison on immigration papers when she came to the U.S. from Jordan in 1995 and before she became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 2004, the indictment says.

Her lawyer, Michael Deutsch, has said Odeh’s mental state when she applied to enter the U.S. from Jordan in 1994 and sought citizenship in 2004 could become an issue at trial.

Deutsch told the Chicago Sun-Times that Borman did the right thing and said he was “not surprised” to learn that the judge had more ties to Israel than previously disclosed.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press

Join us!
A message from the Editor of Times of Israel
David Horovitz

For as little as $6 a month, you can help support our independent journalism — and enjoy special benefits and status as a Times of Israel Community member!

The Times of Israel covers one of the most complicated, and contentious, parts of the world. Determined to keep readers fully informed and enable them to form and flesh out their own opinions, The Times of Israel has gradually established itself as the leading source of independent and fair-minded journalism on Israel, the region and the Jewish world.

We've achieved this by investing ever-greater resources in our journalism while keeping all of the content on our site free.

Unlike many other news sites, we have not put up a paywall. But we would like to invite readers who can afford to do so, and for whom The Times of Israel has become important, to help support our journalism by joining The Times of Israel Community. Join now and for as little as $6 a month you can both help ensure our ongoing investment in quality journalism, and enjoy special status and benefits as a Times of Israel Community member.

Join our community
read more: