DETROIT — A Nigerian man charged with trying to blow up an Amsterdam-to-Detroit flight on Christmas fired his lawyers Monday and suggested he wants to plead guilty to some charges.
U.S. District Judge Nancy Edmunds advised Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab not to get rid of his attorneys, but he insisted. Edmunds then granted his request and asked if he had anything further to say.
“If I want to plead guilty to some counts . . . basically, how would that go?” Abdulmutallab responded during his first court appearance since being arraigned in January on six charges, including attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction.
Edmunds told him she couldn’t advise on such matters and ordered that a stand-by attorney be named to assist Abdulmutallab with his defence. Stand-by attorneys, common in cases in which defendants represent themselves, may listen and give advice, but don’t negotiate with the government or take an active role in a trial.
Asked for comment on Monday’s developments, Miriam Siefer, who headed Abdulmutallab’s defence team, said: “Mr. Abdulmutallab has the right to represent himself, and he’s exercised that right.”
Passengers who saw flames pounced on a man, subdued him and forced him to the front of Northwest Airlines Flight 253 as it approached Detroit Metropolitan Airport carrying nearly 300 people last Dec. 25. Authorities say the man was trying to set off explosives hidden in his underwear.