RICHMOND, Va. – The Latest on the federal appeals court hearing on the forced medication of a defendant in a terror support case (all times local):
An attorney for a mentally ill man accused of trying to join al-Qaida-linked fighters in Syria has urged a federal appeals court to overturn a ruling that would allow his client to be forcibly medicated so he can stand trial.
Attorney Joseph Gilbert told a three-judge panel of the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals on Thursday that neither the public nor the government would be harmed if Basit Sheikh was civilly committed indefinitely instead of imprisoned.
Gilbert stressed that the medication to treat Sheikh's schizophrenia could have serious side effects and argued that prosecutors failed to prove that the proposed treatment would make him competent to face trial.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Phillip Rubin told the court that prosecuting Sheikh's case would have significant impacts that civilly committing him wouldn't, including deterring others from trying to join terror groups.
A federal appeals court will consider whether a North Carolina man can be forcibly medicated in order to stand trial on a charge that he tried to join al-Qaida-linked fighters in Syria.
Basit Sheikh is charged with providing material support to a terrorist group for attempting to join militants in Syria.
A federal judge ruled in October that the Pakistan native can be forcibly treated for schizophrenia to see if that will make him competent to stand trial. A three-judge panel of the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals will hear arguments in Sheikh's case Thursday.
Sheikh's attorney said in court documents that the government is trying to use the man as a "human 'guinea pig." Prosecutors say the charge he faces is serious and must be considered in court.