Five individual defendants associated with the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development will appeal the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals’ ruling that upheld their convictions and sentencing. On Dec. 7, a three-judge panel of the 5th Circuit ruled that, although the HLF trial was not “perfect,” the five individual defendants were “fairly convicted.” Judge Carolyn Dineen King wrote the 170-page ruling in USA v. Mohammad El-Mezain, et al., which Judges Emilio M. Garza and James E. Graves Jr also signed. The panel upheld the convictions and sentences of Mohammad El-Mezain, Ghassan Elashi, Shukri Abu Baker, Abdulrahman Odeh and Mufid Abdulqader. According to the opinion, the jury convicted the five of conspiring to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization. King wrote, “The [five individual] defendants raise a host of issues challenging both their convictions and their sentences, including numerous errors that they claim deprived them of a fair trial. While no trial is perfect, this one included, we conclude from our review of the record, briefs, and oral argument, that the defendants were fairly convicted.” On Dec. 12, the five individual defendants filed a motion to file a consolidated en banc appeal and asked for a two-week extension, until Jan. 4, to file that appeal. The 5th Circuit panel also dismissed for lack of jurisdiction the appeal filed on behalf of the now defunct nonprofit corporation HLF. According to the 5th Circuit panel opinion, a jury also convicted HLF of conspiracy. Marlo Cadeddu, a Dallas solo, represents Abdulqader. Nancy Hollander, a partner in Freedman Boyd Hollander Goldberg Ives & Duncan of Albuquerque, New Mexico, represents Abu Baker. Both lawyers decline comment. Gregory Westfall, a Fort Worth solo, represents Odeh. Linda Moreno of the Law Office of Linda Moreno in Tampa, Fla. represents Elashi. Joshua Dratel of the Law Offices of Joshua Dratel in New York represents El-Mazain. None of the three lawyers immediately returned a call seeking comment. Northern District of Texas U.S. Attorney Sarah R. Saldaña writes in a statement issued by her press office, “The Fifth Circuit’s affirmance of the convictions and sentences in this case cements this office’s unyielding resolve to prosecute those who provide financial support to terrorist organizations.” Spokeswoman Kathy Colvin declines further comment on Saldana’s behalf. The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Texas in Dallas prosecuted the HLF and the five individual defendants.
-- Miriam Rozen