HLF President and CEO Shukri Abu-Baker and Chairman Ghassan Elashi got 65 years imprisonment. Volunteer Mufid Abdulqader received 20 years. New Jersey office director Abdulrahman Odeh and California office director Mohammad El-Mezain got 15 years.
Innocence was no defense. Charitable compassion became criminalized. Guilt by accusation assured gulag hell confinement.
On December 7, 2011, the US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit upheld the lower court convictions. It ruled that:
"despite raising a myriad of issues, including numerous claims of erroneous evidentiary rulings, the defendants do not challenge the sufficiency of the evidence to support their convictions."
In other words, defendants argued that secret and alleged evidence was inadmissible. Without it, jurors wouldn't have voted to convict. Sentences should be reversed. Fifth Circuit judges disagreed.
On February 17, 2012, they denied HLF's rehearing request. On May 21, attorneys petitioned the Supreme Court for justice. Key is disallowing secret witness testimonies and hearsay evidence.
The Sixth Amendment states:
"In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right."to be confronted with the witnesses against him"."
In Smith v. Illinois (1968), the High Court ruled on the secret witness issue, saying:
"(W)hen the credibility of a witness is in issue, the very starting point in exposing falsehood and bringing out the truth through cross-examination must necessarily be to ask the witness who he is and where he lives."
"To forbid this most rudimentary inquiry at the threshold is effectively to emasculate the right of cross-examination itself."
In late October, the Supreme Court will decide whether or not to hear HLF's appeal. Innocent lives hang in the balance.
A Final Comment
In March 2012, Ghassan Elashi's daughter Noor said, "My father will not be forgotten.""Exactly three days following the tenth anniversary of the Bush administration shutting down the largest Muslim charity in the United States, the Fifth Circuit Court dismissed the appeal for the Holy Land Foundation case, affirming the conviction of my father, the co-founder of the HLF who's serving a 65-year sentence for his humanitarian work."