A three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit on Thursday vacated the conviction of Palestinian terrorist Rasmea Odeh, 68, a former resident of Michigan, convicted by US District Court in Detroit of immigration fraud for failing to tell US authorities she had served a prison sentence in Israel for a 1969 supermarket bombing that killed two people.
Odeh was convicted in 1970 by an Israeli military court of involvement in the bombing of an Israeli supermarket in Jerusalem in 1969 that killed two civilians, and an attempted attack on the British Consulate, as well as membership in the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), and was sentenced to life in prison in Israel. She spent 10 years in prison before she was released in a prisoner exchange with the PFLP in 1980.
Odeh denies her guilt in both attacks, saying she was forced to confess after being tortured by the Shabak. She was not charged with terrorism in US court but with immigration fraud in filling out application forms.
The US appellate court said US District Court Judge Gershwin Drain should have allowed expert testimony that Odeh was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) because of the torture she had endured in prison. As a result, Odeh’s lawyer claimed, she did not realize that her statements to immigration officials were false. The appellate court said the expert would have testified that Odeh’s PTSD caused her to interpret questions in a way to avoid any thought of her trauma.
Odeh’s attorney, Michael Deutsch, said that if the lower court decides the PTSD testimony is admissible, it will declare a mistrial and schedule a new trial. But if the court excludes the PTSD testimony for a different reason—possibly because it’s an insane and obviously false argument coming from a convicted murderer, the case will go back on appeal.