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Judge Lowers Padilla Sentence Because of Harsh Confinement

Posted Jan 22, 2008 12:41 PM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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Updated: Jose Padilla, once accused of plotting to release a dirty bomb in the United States, has been sentenced to 17 years and four months in prison for conspiring to "murder, kidnap and maim” people overseas.

The 37-year-old Padilla had been expected to get life in prison, the Miami Herald reports. U.S. District Judge Marcia Cooke of Miami said she reduced the sentence because of Padilla’s prior harsh confinement as an enemy combatant.

One juror had told the Herald that Padilla, convicted in August, appeared to be a small pawn in the conspiracy. Before the trial he was held for 3 ½ years as an enemy combatant based on the dirty bomb allegations, but he was never charged with that crime.

Cooke said she took into account the harsh conditions of Padilla's confinement that included having no mattress, no books, and no contact with family members or a lawyer, Bloomberg reports.

"I dispute the government's contention that I can't take into account these considerations in fashioning a sentence,'' Cooke said.

Prosecutors said they would appeal.

Updated at 11:52 a.m. CT to include the Bloomberg account of the sentencing.

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