Prosecutors to Appeal Sentence

Of Defendant in Bombing Plot

SEATTLE -- When a federal judge sentenced would-be millennium bomber Ahmed Ressam to 22 years in prison last month, he took the opportunity to criticize the Bush administration's handling of suspected terrorists.

Now U.S. District Judge John C. Coughenour may get a chance to see whether an appeals court found his remarks appropriate.

Prosecutors said Friday they will appeal Ressam's sentence because it was significantly shorter than the 35 years prosecutors had recommended. U.S. Attorney John McKay said the standard sentencing range for the crimes Ressam committed is 65 years to life.

Ressam was arrested on the eve of the millennium as he drove off a ferry from British Columbia with 124 pounds of bomb-making materials. Prosecutors said he had attended terrorist training camps in Afghanistan and was intent on bombing Los Angeles International Airport.

At last month's sentencing, Coughenour said the successful prosecution of Ressam should serve not only as a warning to terrorists, but as a statement to the Bush administration about its anti-terrorism tactics.

"We did not need to use a secret military tribunal, detain the defendant indefinitely as an enemy combatant or deny the defendant the right to counsel," he said at the time. "The message to the world from today's sentencing is that our courts have not abandoned our commitment to the ideals that set our nation apart."

With credit for time served and three years for good behavior, Ressam could be out of prison in 14 years. He probably would then be deported or sent to France, where he has been convicted in absentia of terrorism-related crimes.

* LOS ANGELES -- Potato chips and french fries could soon come with a warning label in California if Attorney General Bill Lockyer prevails in a lawsuit against nine fast-food chains and snack-food makers. Lockyer asked for a court order requiring McDonald's, Burger King, Wendy's, Frito-Lay and other companies to warn consumers that their fries and chips may contain acrylamide, a chemical the state says causes cancer.

At least one of the companies -- Frito-Lay -- disputes that, saying there is no evidence the substance is carcinogenic.

* LAUREL, Miss. -- An oyster fisherman who claimed that chemicals from a DuPont factory caused his rare blood cancer was awarded $14 million in actual damages in the first of 1,996 lawsuits involving the plant. A jury found DuPont DeLisle at fault for Glen Strong's multiple myeloma. DuPont plans to appeal.

* BURLINGTON, Vt. -- Lawyers for the man sentenced to die in Vermont's first capital punishment trial in almost 50 years asked a judge to overturn his death sentence. Attorneys for Donald Fell, 25, argued that prosecutors behaved improperly his carjacking-murder trial, and they want the judge to commute his sentence to life in prison or order a new sentencing hearing.

-- From News Services