The highly anticipated New York trial of Osama bin Laden's son-in-law could be delayed because his court-appointed lawyers have been hit by US budget cuts, they said Monday.
Federal Judge Lewis Kaplan called the revelation that a package of US federal government cost cuts known as the sequester might make a start to the trial this year impossible "stunning."
Martin Cohen, an attorney for Sulaiman Abu Ghaith, allegedly a senior propagandist in the Al-Qaeda network, said he doubted he could be ready by Kaplan's suggested trial date in September.
"The lawyers for the federal defenders are to be furloughed for five-and-a-half weeks," he told a hearing, saying it would be "very difficult to be ready for September."
Cohen suggested a January date for the trial as an alternative.
Kaplan said it was "extremely troublesome to contemplate the possibility of a case of this nature being delayed because of sequestration."
Abu Ghaith has pleaded not guilty to conspiring to kill US nationals. He did not speak during the hearing in Manhattan, but listened to proceedings through an English-to-Arabic interpreter.