Convicted supermarket bomber claims PTSD made her lie on U.S. immigration papers.
Rasmea Odeh is the Palestinian terrorist group member convicted of the 1969 supermarket bombing in Jerusalem that killed two Hebrew University students, Edward Joffe and Leon Kanner. She was released in a prisoner exchange in 1979 for an Israeli soldier captured in Lebanon.
I visited the graves of Edward and Leon, and met their siblings, during my trip to Israel in 2015, Rasmea Odeh’s victims – then and now.
Rasmea eventually made her way to the U.S., where she lied on both her visa and naturalization applications, by falsely stating that she never was convicted of a crime or served time in prison. She told other lies as well, such as not disclosing the time she spent in Lebanon after release from Israeli prison, or that she was a military member of the terrorist Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.
Rasmea became a U.S. citizen in 2004 on the basis of those lies.
In 2014 Rasmea was convicted of immigration fraud. Rasmea has become a hero to the anti-Israel movement in the U.S., which falsely claims she confessed to the supermarket bombing only after 25 days of horrific sexual torture. In fact, the records show she confessed the day after arrest, there was substantial corroborating evidence, and she received a trial that an observer from the International Red Cross termed fair. Rasmea’s main co-conspirator has said in a video interview decades later that Rasmea was the mastermind.
Yet the false narrative of Rasmea’s confession is pushed to this day:
Earlier this year, the Court of Appeals sent the case back down to the district court to hold a hearing on whether Rasmea could present expert evidence that she supposedly suffered PTSD from her alleged Israeli torture in 1969 such that she didn’t understand the simple questions on the forms decades later about whether she “EVER” (caps and bold on form) had been convicted or served time in prison. The Appeals Court did NOT overturn her conviction or order a new trial, contrary to how some anti-Israel activists present the case.
The district court will hold a hearing on whether this expert testimony can be presented in late November. If the district court allows the expert testimony, there will be a new trial in January 2017. If the district court denies the expert testimony, the conviction will remain in place and Rasmea will (after another appeal) go to prison for 18 months and then be deported.
The first step in this expert hearing process just started today, with the government filing a motion to conduct its own mental examination of Rasmea. The full motion is embedded at the bottom of the post.
The government argues that the mental examination is necessary for the following reasons, among others:
The government requests that this Court order a mental examination of the defendant by a government expert pursuant to Rule 12.2(c)(1)(B). That expert will examine the defendant to determine 1) whether the defendant suffered from PTSD at the time of the charged offense; 2) whether the defendant is malingering; and 3) whether, if in fact the defendant suffered from PTSD at the time of the charged offense, the PTSD manifested itself in the defendant in the way the defense expert claims. The answers to these questions will help to inform the Court in addressing such potential evidentiary concerns as noted above, as well as the competence and reliability of the proposed defense testimony. For instance, if the government expert raises substantial questions about the defense expert’s diagnosis of PTSD or about the way PTSD manifested in the defendant, the evidentiary concerns noted above would favor heavily against admission of the testimony.
An examination by a government expert will also test the reliability and the competence of the defense expert’s testimony, and by extension, its admissibility under the standards set forth in Federal Rule of Evidence 702 and Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, Inc., 509 U.S. 579 (1993)…..
In Daubert, the Supreme Court held that Rule 702 requires that a district court act as a “gatekeeper” by ensuring that expert testimony which is unreliable, unsupported or speculative is kept from the jury.
The government continued:
Requiring the defendant to submit to an examination by a government expert provides the government with a meaningful opportunity to rebut the defendant’s mental condition claim, both for purposes of challenging the admissibility of the expert’s testimony and, if necessary, for rebutting it at trial. The subject matter of the defense expert’s proposed testimony is the subjective state of mind of the defendant. The government needs access to that same subject matter to test and rebut the defense expert.
I’ve read both the expert report and prior testimony in court prior to the first trial. I will be analyzing the proposed testimony versus the legal standard in more detail in the coming weeks and months. But there are several very serious flaws in the testimony, including the inability of the expert to say that the alleged PTSD actually was responsible for the supposed failure to understand simple questions decades later.
Will the district court allow the testimony? Stay tuned.
And keep Edward and Leon, the real victims in the Rasmea Odeh saga, in your memories.
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