A federal judge agreed Wednesday to allow Israeli undercover agents to testify in disguises in the upcoming trial of an alleged Ecstasy kingpin but refused a government request that they not use their real names.
US District Judge William Dimitrouleas determined the six agents would not be completely hidden if their costumes are limited to wigs, makeup and facial hair for men. Defense lawyers for the accused kingpin, Zeev Rosenstein, had objected to the testimony in disguise, saying it would violate his right to confront one's accuser.
"This is not a situation where the witnesses are not physically present in the courtroom and are testifying remotely," Dimitrouleas ruled. "Defendant's counsel and the jury will all be capable of viewing firsthand the reactions of the witnesses to both direct and cross-examination."
The judge sided with Rosenstein, however, in rejecting prosecutors' proposal that the Israeli agents use only "officer numbers" instead of their names when they testify. The true identities will help defense lawyers delve into their professional backgrounds and personal lives for cross-examination purposes.