A federal judge, rejecting former CIA agent Edwin P. Wilson's claims that federal agents acted illegally when they lured him back to the United States, yesterday ordered Wilson to stand trial here Nov. 22 on charges of shipping explosives to Libyan ruler Col. Muammar Qaddafi.
But U.S. District Judge John H. Pratt granted a move by Wilson's lawyers to split the group of charges against Wilson into two trials. The second trial, for which no date has been set, will deal with charges that Wilson and former CIA employe Francis E. Terpil conspired to kill a Libyan dissident on behalf of Qaddafi.
Pratt ordered lawyers for both sides to present written arguments within a week on Wilson's claims that the explosives charges cannot be heard here because the explosives were shipped elsewhere. But he rejected without comment a series of other arguments by Wilson's lawyers, Herald Price Fahringer and John A. Keats, including a request that the government's chief prosecutor, E. Lawrence Barcella Jr., be removed from the case.
The major issue during the nearly four-hour hearing yesterday was whether the government had acted illegally in creating an elaborate ruse that lured Wilson out of Libya and led to his arrest last June in New York.
Barcella conceded in court that a letter purportedly from the National Security Council, which was used to help persuade Wilson to leave Libya, said Wilson would not be arrested if he went to the Dominican Republic.
"To that extent," Barcella said, "the letter was a fraud." But the prosecutor argued that under the law, "fraud was permitted" in trying to bring back fugitives.
Wilson, who is being held on a total $60 million bond, also is due to stand trial in Houston on Oct. 27 and in Alexandria on Nov. 15 on other charges related to the shipments of weapons and explosives.