A federal judge has granted defense lawyers' request to delay the trial of former WorldCom chief executive Bernard Ebbers by two months, according to published reports.

U.S. District Judge Barbara Jones set a new trial date of Jan. 17, 2005, but said that she wouldn't grant any more delays in a case that was scheduled to begin Nov. 9, according to reports.

Lawyers for Ebbers reportedly said that they needed more time to prepare a defense. According to reports, Jones said that defense lawyers made a "mistake" by initially agreeing to the November schedule, but that shouldn't undercut Ebbers' "ability to prepare for the case."

Jones denied requests to drop the fraud charges against Ebbers and to move the trial to Ebbers' home state of Mississippi.

Ebbers is charged with committing fraud and making false statements in public filings in connection with the $11 billion accounting scandal that drove WorldCom, now known as MCI, into bankruptcy, from which it recently emerged.

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