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Friday, 31 January, 2003, 11:29 GMT
'Shoe bomber' defiant after life sentence
Shoe Bomber suspect Richard C. Reid, right, seen in this court artist drawing
Richard Reid is sentenced to life in prison by US Federal Judge William Young
Fergal Parkinson

Richard Reid, the man known as the shoe bomber, has been sentenced to life in prison at a court in Boston.

During his sentencing hearing, he once again pledged allegiance to Osama Bin Laden.

It was an emotional, highly charged hearing, beginning with a personal account from three of the flight attendants who tackled Reid as he tried to set fire to explosives concealed in his shoes.

American Airlines flight attendant Cristina Jones who was one who helped subdue Reid on the plane
Cristina Jones thought she was going to die

One of them, Cristina Jones addressed the court, barely managing to hold back tears as she spoke.

She told the court of the horror that day - thinking she was going to die as she saw Richard Reid attempting to light that explosive in his shoe.

She said repercussions were not just affecting her, they were affecting the rest of her family and will be with her for life.

Then, after the prosecution and defence had outlined their cases, Richard Reid was allowed to speak.

No apology

Standing almost two metres tall, the 29-year-old looked directly at the judge.

Richard Reid, you are a terrorist, we do not negotiate with terrorists we hunt them down

Judge William Young
"I admit my actions, I admit my alliances to Osama Bin Laden, I do not apologise for my actions and I am still at war with your country."

The judge looked shocked and looking Reid straight in the eye he managed to hold his composure but there were a few tense seconds in the court room. Then the judge addressed Reid directly.

"Richard Reid, you are a terrorist, we do not negotiate with terrorists we hunt them down, you hate our freedom," he said.

Pointing to a flag hanging on a wall behind him he said: "Richard Reid see that flag, that is the flag of the United States of America, it will fly there long after this is over and I am now sentencing you to life in prison."

Abusive departure

Richard Reid was then taken away by four guards, shouting and screaming at the judge and the flight crew as he left.

United States Attorney Michael Sullivan faces reporters at Federal Court in Boston
US Attorney Michael Sullivan faces reporters at Federal Court in Boston

There was a huge amount of pressure on this judge and a huge amount of publicity in this case - one of the first cases of an act of terrorism being brought to court here after the events of 11 September.

The Massachusetts prosecutor in charge of this case, Michael Sullivan, spoke at a news conference following the sentencing.

"Our country is committed in its resolve to protect our liberties and to eradicate terrorism.

"Reid now stands sentenced as a member of al-Qaeda, as an Islamic extremist who is motivated to commit his crimes by hatred of the United States, our policies, our democratic principles and our war against terrorism."

"Indeed, the only regret that Richard Reid has ever expressed is not having been sent participate in the 11 September attacks on the United States."

Fingerprint clue

The prosecution would like us to believe - and has always argued during this case - that Reid was part of a wider network.

They say he did not act alone, stating that there was a fingerprint on the explosive found in his shoe and a sample of hair that was not Richard Reid's.

But the defence team have always said that is not the case, that it is simply not true.

Although he may support Osama Bin Laden he is certainly not a member of any international terrorist groups and he was simply acting alone, they say.


Key stories

European probe

Background

IN DEPTH
See also:

04 Oct 02 | Americas
28 Dec 01 | UK
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