Saturday, November 18, 2006

Defendant in Sept. 11 Perjury Case Acquitted

A jury in New York acquitted Osama Awadallah of two counts of perjury the government charged took place during testimony before a grand jury in October 2001 investigating the September 11 terrorist attacks.  Awadallah was a student in San Diego in 2000 when he became acquainted with one of the hijackers who was on the plane that flew into the Pentagon, and he was arrested as a material witness shortly after the attacks.  In grand jury testimony given while he was handcuffed and had been held in solitary confinement for weeks, he admitted knowing Nawaf al-Hazmi but denied knowing the name of al Hazmi's companion, Khalid al-Mihdhar, or that it was his handwriting in a notebook with their first names in it.  In a subsequent grand jury appearance, he testified that he was mistaken about knowing Khalid, whom he met a few times, and in not recognizing his handwriting, but he was charged anyway with perjury.  The first trial ended in a hung jury with a single juror holding out for an acquittal, while the second case ended with a unanimous verdict in his favor.  According to an AP story (here), the jury forewoman stated that Awadallah's testimony appeared to be immaterial to the government's investigation because it already knew the identity of the two hijackers, so he could add little to the inquiry. (ph)

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Perjury, Verdict | Permalink

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