Irvine 11 want DA off the case

Eleven Muslim students charged with disrupting a speech by Michael Oren, the Israeli ambassador to the United States, at U.C. Irvine last year sought March 11 to have the Orange County district attorney pulled from the case.

Prosecutors illegally obtained search warrants and focused on the religion of the defendants by dubbing the case the “UCI Muslim case,” said Dan Mayfield, one of the students’ attorneys.

“We are asking the [California] attorney general to step in and take over the case,” Mayfield said during a news conference after the students’ arraignment was postponed until April 15.

Orange County Deputy District Attorney Dan Wagner said the allegations were not grounds to pull his office from the case.

The students are each charged with one count of misdemeanor conspiracy to disturb a meeting and one count of misdemeanor disturbance of a meeting. They were arrested Feb. 8, 2010, after shouting “mass murderer” and “war criminal,” among other things, at a speech by Oren.

Last week, 30 U.C. Jewish studies faculty members from seven campuses asked for criminal charges against the students to be dropped. Those who signed a letter included David Biale, Jewish history professor at U.C. Davis, and Daniel Boyarin, Talmud professor at U.C. Berkeley. Jewish Voice for Peace also supports dropping the charges. The Simon Wiesenthal Center and the Zionist Organization of America are among the Jewish groups supporting the prosecution of the students. — ap & jta