Posted Jun 04, 2008 12:06 am CDT
A federal judge in Boston today threw out most of the January tax-related jury convictions against defendants who were officers of a now-defunct charity accused of promoting jihad and supporting Islamic militants abroad.
Calling the evidence against them “thin,” District Judge Dennis Saylor IV acquitted Samir Al-Monla and Emadeddin Muntasser of conspiring to defraud the United States and participating in a scheme to conceal the origins of Massachusetts Care International Inc., reports the Boston Globe. Another conviction against Muntasser, of making false statements to the FBI, remains in force; however, sentencing guidelines call for a six-month term, so he is expected to be released from prison soon. Al-Monla’s release is imminent.
The government is likely to appeal the judge’s decision.
The prosecution had urged harsh sentences for the three in what was described in a sentencing brief as a much-watched terrorism case of global interest, according to the Telegram, a Worcester, Mass., newspaper.
However, supporters said the two men and a third defendant who was acquitted by Saylor of a conspiracy charge but not of filing false tax returns, were targeted in a witch hunt that would never have occurred had they not been Muslims.
“Thank God for our Constitution and for the checks and balances it puts in our judicial system,” Muntasser’s brother, Benny, tells the Globe. “We feel that there is a minority that bears some biases and prejudices against us. However, we feel grateful again for the federal judicial system, the court system that is removed from politics and prejudices.”