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Quick hearing for bomb suspect, but probably a long road ahead

At a hearing in Detroit, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab pleaded not guilty to charges that he tried to blow up a plane on Christmas Day. US authorities will undoubtedly want to examine every step of his journey before proceeding with a trial.

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In this courtroom drawing, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, right, stands before Magistrate Judge Mark A. Randon in federal court in Detroit, Friday. The Nigerian man pleaded not guilty to charges that he tried to blow up a packed Detroit-bound airliner on Christmas Day.

Jerry Lemenu/AP

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It was over in less than five minutes. In his first appearance in public since allegedly trying to blow up a packed US airliner on Christmas Day, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab on Friday pleaded not guilty before a federal judge in Detroit.

The slight Nigerian native was barely taller than his female public defender, Miriam Siefer. Dressed in an oversized white T-shirt, he walked with a slight limp. Asked if he had taken any drugs or alcohol in the past 24 hours, he answered “some pain pills.”

He stood at a podium in Detroit’s federal courthouse and answered a few questions from Magistrate Judge Mark Randon. His attorneys then waived the reading of the indictment, and the judge entered a plea of not guilty for him.

It is unlikely that a quick trial is in store for Mr. Abdulmutallab. US authorities undoubtedly will want to examine thoroughly every step of his journey across continents – from Nigeria, to Yemen, then through Amsterdam to Detroit – before proceeding.

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