HLF Trial Update: Four Witnesses in One Day


His face was cherry red. He was outraged at this mockery of a trial. Defendant Ghassan Elashi's voice was loud and clear. As U.S. District Judge A. Joe Fish and jurors exited the courtroom after a mid-morning break Monday, August 20, 2007, Elashi let out his frustration toward the unjust judge. This is an extension of the Zionist occupation. We can't win the case with this judge because he is a bigot, Elashi said. The judge later replied, We can't have outbursts like that. I'm warning you that a further outburst won't be tolerated. If another outburst occurs, you will waive your right to be present in the courtroom. The jurors followed closely as four witnesses were put on the stand. The jury box was exceptionally colorful as the 15-member jury wore bright red, green, yellow, purple and blue shirts. Maybe they were in a jubilant mood. Or maybe they were eager to learn.

Defendant Mohammad El-Mezain's attorney, Josh Dratel, continued the cross-examination of Avi by displaying several posters that the prosecutors showed the jury. He pointed out that most of the posters that the Israeli government seized from the zakat committees in occupied Palestine were created after the U.S. government shut down the Holy Land Foundation in 2001. He specifically talked about a poster announcing the death of Hamas founder Ahmad Yassin. He made clear that Israeli forces assassinated Yassin with a missile in 2004 as he was being pushed in his wheelchair on his way back from a mosque in Gaza. Dratel wanted to conclude by showing the jury a 1993 document that would prove that the Israeli government permit the construction of a Jenin hospital, which was a zakat committee project partially funded by the HLF. The government objected to the document on the grounds of hearsay and the judge sustained their objection, thereby not allowing Dratel to discuss the document. This frustrated many people, including Elashi.

 


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