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Madeleine Albright subpoenaed in terrorism trial

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NEW YORK (CNN) -- U.S. District Judge Leonard Sand Tuesday signed a subpoena for former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright to testify in the embassy bombings trial, but it's not believed she will appear.

The subpoena comes from trial defendant Mohamed al-'Owhali, one of two defendants who would be subject to a death penalty if he is convicted.

In a hearing after trial testimony had concluded for the day, Sand said he signed the paperwork "simply to move the matter forward," not to suggest Albright is a "proper witness." In fact, Sand said, her personal view on matters the attorneys wished to put before the court "is really irrelevant."

Al-'Owhali is one of four men on trial for participating in an alleged terrorist conspiracy to kill Americans and destroy U.S. property allegedly led by Saudi exile Osama bin Laden. Al-'Owhali is charged with a direct role carrying out the Kenya embassy bombing August 7, 1998 that killed 213 people, including 12 Americans, and injured thousands of other people.

The Albright subpoena -- like al-'Owhali subpoenas of the Pentagon and the media, including CNN -- seeks information and evidence about U.S. foreign policy and military actions.

In the penalty phase, al-'Owhali attorneys would like to suggest to the jury that the U.S. government had reckless disregard for human life in its killing of Iraqis through economic sanctions and airstrikes since the Gulf War ceasefire in 1991, and in its failure to warn Kenyans about bomb threats against the Nairobi embassy.

The signing of the subpoena paves the way for State Department and Albright attorneys to argue in court why the subpoena should be quashed.

"It is far from clear that such testimony should be received at all and it is also far from clear that Secretary Albright is the appropriate witness," said Assistant U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald in a letter opposing the subpoena. "The requests are irrelevant to al-'Owhali's state of mind."

Defense subpoenas served on CNN and other news agencies -- seeking archival footage of U.S. strikes in Iraq, Somalia, Panama, and Libya -- were quashed by Judge Sand or withdrawn by al-'Owhali's lawyers Monday.

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U.S. State Department
 •  International Information Programs:
 •  Counterterrorism
 •  Links to United States Embassies and Consulates Worldwide
Patterns of Global Terrorism: 1999
FBI Websites Document Evidence Against Bin Laden
Ussamah Bin Laden
US District Court, Southern District of New York
Terrorism Research Center
Africa News on the World Wide Web

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