Israelis to testify against Rosenstein

Undercover agents will wear disguises, be identified by number only.

November 23, 2006 01:22
1 minute read.
ze'ev rosenstein goes into court 298.88

zeev rosenstein 298.88. (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])


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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 were 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. Israel had asked for these protections to provide cover for the Israel National Police officers, saying it was common practice in Israel. But Dimitrouleas said that was not a good enough reason for such unusual protections in a US court. "Having chosen to extradite Rosenstein to the United States, however, they must now conform to the procedural trial protections mandated by the US Constitution," the judge wrote. Rosenstein, 51, is scheduled to go to trial in January on charges of conspiracy to distribute in the US more than 1 million pills of the synthetic drug MDMA, more commonly known as Ecstasy. Rosenstein is on the US list of 44 top worldwide drug traffickers. He has pleaded not guilty and has been held without bail since his extradition from Israel in March. Dimitrouleas also granted a request from prosecutors and the Israeli government that the agents not be questioned about specific surveillance techniques, but said they could be questioned about the physical locations of their observation posts. Federal prosecutors declined comment and Rosenstein's defense lawyer did not respond immediately to an e-mail message seeking comment Wednesday after office hours.

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