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Tobacco farmer ordered held without bond

Saturday, March 22, 2003

WASHINGTON -- The man whose tractor-sitting protest on the National Mall brought Washington traffic to a crawl was found competent to stand trial Friday.

Dwight Ware Watson, 50, was ordered to appear Tuesday for a federal hearing. He is being held without bond.

"The defendant is competent to proceed," said U.S. Magistrate Judge John M. Facciola, who a day earlier ordered Watson to undergo a mental evaluation after the man said he wanted to represent himself in court.

On Monday, Watson drove a tractor into a small pond located near the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. At the time, he was pulling a Jeep and flatbed trailer to a location near the Washington Monument, where he had a permit to hold a demonstration against tobacco policies he contends ruined him financially.

Police say he claimed to have explosives, but none were found after he gave himself up on Wednesday.

Watson has disputed the criminal complaint charging him with making a false threat to kill, injure or intimidate or cause property damage with explosives.

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