Court halts release of militia members

Associated Press / May 7, 2010

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DETROIT — A federal appeals court issued an emergency stay yesterday blocking, at least temporarily, the release of nine jailed Michigan militia members accused of conspiring to overthrow the US government.

The US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit in Cincinnati issued the stay shortly after the US attorney’s office in Detroit filed a motion seeking the order.

The nine had been returned to US District Court in Detroit to be processed for release until trial, but the appeals court halted those proceedings.

“They’re bad losers,’’ defense attorney Mark Satawa told reporters after the hearing, referring to the government. “I fully expect that the Sixth Circuit will resolve this quickly.’’

In a ruling late Wednesday, US District Judge Victoria Roberts said she would not further suspend her Monday order that releases the militia members with strict rules, including electronic monitoring and curfews.

“We don’t think the conditions are satisfactory,’’ US Attorney Barbara McQuade said. “We think the defendants pose a danger to the public and to law enforcement in particular. It’s my duty to protect the safety of the public.’’

Roberts had ordered the militia members released Monday, then suspended her decision while prosecutors decided whether to appeal.

They will appeal, but she was not persuaded to freeze the order any longer.

The members of the southern Michigan militia, called Hutaree, are charged with conspiracy to commit sedition, or rebellion, against the government and the attempted use of weapons of mass destruction. They have been in custody without bond since late March.

Prosecutors allege that the suspects are too dangerous to be released from jail.

But Roberts set many restrictions and appointed third-party custodians, mostly family members, to keep watch.

Many were at the courthouse yesterday waiting for their relatives to be released.