Holy Land Verdict In; Announcement Must Wait for Judge
October 18, 2007
DALLAS – A verdict in the nation's largest terrorism financing case has been reached, but the defendants and the public must wait out the weekend to hear the results.
Five officials with the defunct Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development (HLF) are charged with illegally providing millions of dollars in aid to Hamas. That money primarily flowed from the Richardson, TX-based charity to a series of Palestinian social welfare groups, known as zakat committees, in the West Bank and Gaza.
Government claims that those committees were controlled by Hamas are at the heart of the case. Thursday's announcement of a verdict came after 19 days of jury deliberations and two weeks after jurors reported to the court that one panelist refused to participate in deliberations.
U.S. District Judge A. Joe Fish is out of town and unavailable to have the verdict read, the court announced Thursday afternoon. The verdict will be read Monday morning at 10 a.m. CST.
Civil attorney Stephen Landes, who helped win a $156 million judgment against HLF and other organizations in the name of an American killed by Hamas, said it is impossible to predict which way the outcome will go.
"The jury must have taken this very seriously," Landes said. "There's just a lot of material for them to go through."
That includes thousands of pages of financial records, dozens of transcripts from wiretapped conversations involving the defendants and other internal documents.
Defense attorneys argued the money went to needy Palestinians and that prosecutors failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the zakat committees answered to Hamas.
The Dallas Morning News has more coverage here.