American prosecutors end high-profile terrorism case against California man
|globalnews.ca 14 Feb 2020 at 21:01|
“While we are grateful for the dismissal, the 14 years Hamid spent behind bars on charges of which he was innocent remain a grave miscarriage of justice,” his family and lawyers said in their statement. “Hamid’s exoneration is a cause for celebration, but the story of his case is tragedy that must not be repeated.”
They noted that both the federal judge and a federal magistrate found that multiple witnesses credibly testified, years after his conviction, that Hamid could not have committed the crimes.
Both judges decided “that Hamid would not have been found guilty had the powerful evidence of his innocence that won his freedom in 2019 been presented to his jury in 2006,” the attorneys and family said in their statement.
Investigators initially alleged that five men were part of an al-Qaida “sleeper cell” in Lodi.
U.S. District Judge Garland E. Burrell Jr. found that inexperienced defence attorney Wazhma Mojaddidi failed to find those alibi witnesses, who would have testified that Hayat never had time to receive terror training while visiting relatives and getting married in his ancestral village in Pakistan.
They said that the longest Hayat was absent from his family’s ancestral village of Behboodi while visiting Pakistan with family members between 2003 and 2005 was one week. That directly contracted his purported confession to attending a training camp for three to six months.
His defence attorney also should have provided a witness to testify that what prosecutors said was an incriminating note found in Hayat’s wallet was in fact a religious supplication commonly used by many Muslims, he ruled.
Bill Portanova, a defence attorney and former prosecutor not affiliated with the case, noted that prosecutors had evidence including other witness testimony and Hayat’s self-incriminating statements.
“The case was legitimately brought,” he said. “It’s not like there was a complete absence of proof.”