Sept. 28, 2004 – The trial of Syracuse area oncologist Rafil Dhafir, charged with violating the sanctions against Iraq and defrauding contributors to his Help the Needy charity, has been delayed for a week. It was originally scheduled to start last Monday.
Dhafirâ€™s lawyers requested the delay to review 45 pounds of documents from the prosecution, and to determine whether Dhafir will be able to attend his own trial. Dhafir has repeatedly refused to be strip searched, arguing that it violates his Muslim faith. He has been in jail since February 2003, and has been refused bail on at least five separate occasions.
Mohamed Khater, a friend of Dhafir's who is close to the case, told The NewStandard that the documents are mostly papers returned by the prosecutor's office after having been confiscated as part of the initial arrest.
"He won't be strip-searched against his religious beliefs," Devereaux Cannick, Dhafirâ€™s lawyer, told the local Post-Standard. "It will create a major problem for us in the trial." Cannick added that Dhafir has told him he doesn't want his lawyers to represent him in the trial if he cannot attend. The commissioner of the facility where Dhafir is being held told the Post-Standard that, of hundreds of Muslim prisoners to pass through, Dhafir is the first to refuse a strip-search for religious reasons.
The trial is now scheduled to start October 4.