US judge mistrial in Islamic charity case

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DALLAS, Oct 22 (Reuters) A US District Court judge declared a mistrial today on almost all of the counts against an Islamic charity accused of illegally funneling money to the militant Palestinian group Hamas.

''You are at the end of your service in this case,'' presiding Judge A. Joe Fish told the jurors in a Dallas court before declaring a mistrial on the vast majority of the nearly 200 counts applying to the six accused, including the Holy Land Foundation itself.

One of mistrials involved defendant Mufid Abdulqader, after the judge initially read a verdict of not guilty on all 32 counts against him. But at least one juror signaled disagreement with the verdict that had been read in Abdulqader's case.

The prosecution indicated it would seek a retrial in the case.

The US government had viewed the case as part of wider efforts to curb financing of terrorism.

But supporters of the defendants have said the case highlights the unfair scrutiny that US Muslims have been subjected to since the September 11 attacks and that it criminalizes legitimate charitable activities which are central to the Islamic faith.

The charges included conspiracy to support a foreign terrorist organisation, conspiracy to deal in the property of a designated terrorist group, money laundering and filing a false return for a tax-exempt organisation.

Reuters AE DB2302

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