This feels very much like the day that OJ was found not guilty, only in this situation the case lasted 14 years and the jury’s verdict may have implications for an ongoing war.
The original chairman and director of endowments of the Holy Land Foundation was found not guilty of supporting terrorism by sending money to charity committees controlled by Hamas. The jury in the terrorism-financing trial was unable to reach unanimous decisions on three of the six defendants, U.S. District Judge Joe Fish said Monday as he unsealed their verdicts. On two others, they were able to reach unanimous decisions on some of the counts — including those charges against Mohammad El-Mezain, the original chairman of what was once the largest Muslim charity in the U.S. On only one defendant were they able to reach unanimous decisions on all counts. The judge is now beginning to announce the jury’s verdict on each defendant. In all, the jury must make 197 decisions on guilt or innocence this morning. 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 contends that they sent more than $12 million to Palestinian charity committees that they knew to be controlled by Hamas, which has targeted Israeli civilians for more than a decade. The indictment alleges that the Holy Land foundation sponsored fundraising events in which speakers performed skits and songs that advocated the destruction of Israel and glorified the killing of Jewish people. According to prosecutors, it targeted families of “martyrs” for financial aid. Defense attorneys say their clients ran a legitimate charity and had no terrorist ties. The most serious charge carries a penalty of up to 20 years in prison. It is unclear if the government will retry the defendants on those charges where there was no unanimous verdict.
There’s more at the link. I’m sure the legal bloggers will begin to weigh in on the verdict and what might be next over the course of the afternoon.
Update: Zane linked this down in comments. The only reaction I can come up with is “What?”
When jurors came into the courtroom earlier Monday, the judge read the verdicts, but three jurors said those findings were not correct. U.S. District Judge A. Joe Fish sent then back to resolve the differences.
The jury forewoman said she was surprised by the three jurors’ actions.
“When we voted, there was no issue in the vote,” she said. “No one spoke up any different. I really don’t understand where it is coming from. All 12 made that decision.”
The actions left government officials stunned and dissension among the jurors, NBC 5 reported.
I guess the best we can say at this point is that the story isn’t over.
Update: The court has declared mistrials in several of the counts.
11:29 a.m. A mistrial has been declared for five of six defendants in the case of a Muslim charity charged with financing Middle Eastern terrorists.
The story is definitely not over.