(248) 426-7777 Wednesday - Nov 25, 2015

Jurors Unable to Reach Unanimous Decision on Most Counts

Courtesy Jason Trahan and Michael Grabell, The Dallas Morning News

The Holy Land Foundation terrorism-financing trial ended in a mistrial Monday after the jurors deadlocked on most of the counts. One of five defendants was acquitted of all but one charge against him.

Mohammad El-Mezain, the Holy Land’s original chairman and endowments director — was acquitted on most of the counts by a unanimous jury. The mistrial will not affect his acquittals, but he could still face prosecution on a charge of conspiracy to provide material support to terrorism.

A government prosecutor said the Justice Department will retry the case on the charges where the jury reached no verdict.

Earlier in the day, the jury forewoman told the judge that Mufid Abdulqader, a top Holy Land fundraiser and former Dallas public works supervisor, had been found not guilty on all counts. Abdulrahman Odeh, the foundation’s New Jersey representative, was also acquitted on most of the charges. She also said the jury was unable to reach a decision on all the other counts.

When polled, some jurors told the judge that they did not agree with the verdicts on Mr. Abdulqader and Mr. Odeh.

U.S. District Judge Joe Fish then ordered the jury to discuss whether further deliberations might allow them to reach a decision.

“Your verdict must be unanimous and it’s apparent to me from the answers of three members of the jury in respect to my question that the verdicts that I read earlier do not represent the unanimous view of the jury,” Judge Fish said.

But after deliberating for another 45 minutes Monday morning, 11 of 12 jurors agreed that further deliberations would not change their decisions. It was then that the judge declared a mistrial.

The five defendants have had an unexpected four-day wait to learn their fate after the verdict was sealed on Thursday because the judge was out of town. This delay came after 19 days of deliberations and a two-month trial.

None of the defendants are accused of committing or directly sponsoring any violent acts. The government had contended that the five Holy Land defendants, all but one a U.S. citizen, sent more than $12 million to Palestinian charity committees that they knew to be controlled by the outlawed group Hamas, which has targeted Israeli civilians for more than a decade.

Defense attorneys say their clients ran a legitimate charity and had no terrorist ties.

The most serious charge carried a penalty of up to 20 years in prison.

The Holy Land Foundation had been the largest Muslim charity in the U.S. until it was shut down by President Bush. The case was the biggest terror finance trial in U.S. history.


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