Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Mistrial in US Hamas funding case

A mistrial has been ruled in the US in the case of a Muslim charity accused of conspiring to support Palestinian militant group Hamas.

Defendant after the mistrial ruling
A defendant celebrates the mistrial ruling in Dallas

Three jurors contested the verdicts as they were read out in Dallas. The jury was sent out again but later said it was unable to reach a majority verdict.

A mistrial was declared for four former leaders of the Holy Land Foundation while a fifth had most charges dropped.

It was not clear if the prosecution would seek any retrials.

'Terrorist group'

The jury forewoman admitted surprise at the action of the three jurors.

"When we voted, there was no issue in the vote. No-one spoke up any different. I really don't understand where it is coming from."

After a further one hour deliberation, 11 jurors said they would be unable to come to a unanimous verdict.

The charity leaders were accused of funding Hamas, which was designated by the US as a terrorist group in 1995.

The charity said it ran a legitimate operation helping Muslim families.

The prosecution argued Hamas controlled the charities to which $12.4m was sent between 1995 and 2001, when the Holy Land Foundation closed.

Khalil Meek, president of the Muslim Legal Fund of America, said of the result: "It's a victory for the Muslim community."