Palestinian bomber denies immigration crime
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Palestinian bomber denies immigration crime

Prosecutor ridicules Rasmieh Odeh’s professed ‘misunderstanding’ of need to declare prior convictions in citizenship application

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

DETROIT (AP) — A prosecutor told jurors Friday it’s “ridiculous” to believe that a Chicago activist didn’t think she had to disclose convictions for bombings in Israel when she applied for US citizenship in 2004.

“How does someone misunderstand the word ‘ever?'” Assistant U.S. Attorney Jonathan Tukel said during closing arguments in Detroit federal court.

Tukel was referring to Rasmieh Odeh’s citizenship application, which asked if she had “EVER” been arrested, charged, convicted or imprisoned. She checked the “no” box, telling jurors she believed the questions were related only to criminal history in the U.S.

“How ridiculous is that?” Tukel said.

Odeh, 67, is associate director at the Arab American Action Network in Chicago. She spent a decade in an Israeli prison after being convicted of a series of bombings in Jerusalem in 1969, including one explosive that killed two people at a supermarket.

Odeh claims she was tortured into confessing to the crimes, but US District Judge Gershwin Drain tried to keep out most details about that case during the Detroit trial. He said what happened in Israel was not relevant to whether she lied on the citizenship form.

Odeh and Tukel repeatedly clashed during a tense cross-examination earlier Friday. She insisted again that she didn’t believe the criminal history questions extended beyond the US.

Odeh was interviewed in 2004 by a Detroit immigration officer, Jennifer Williams, who told jurors that she always tells citizenship applicants that criminal history applies to “anywhere in the world.” Odeh, however, testified that Williams didn’t use those words.

“I remember exactly what she said. … She didn’t add questions,” Odeh said.

Jurors will start deliberations Monday.

During closing remarks, defense attorney Michael Deutsch said there was plenty of reasonable doubt for the jury.

“How hard would it be to make a form that clearly states what they’re asking?” he said.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press.

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