NEW YORK, Feb 15 (APP):Six months after a U.S. judge set aside the 2006 terrorism conviction against Hamid Hayat, an American citizen of Pakistani descent, prosecutors said Friday they will not pursue another trial against him, according to American media reports.
“Due to the passage of time, the government now moves this court to dismiss, in the interest of justice, the indictments in this case,” federal prosecutors said in a motion filed in U.S. District Court in Sacramento, capital of the US state of California.
The decision brings to a close the controversial prosecution of Hayat, a cherry-picker who spent 14 years of a 24-year sentence in custody until U.S.
District Judge Garland Burrell found last year that his trial lawyer had provided ineffective counsel and he should be released pending a decision by the government on whether to retry him.
Hayat, 35, a resident of Lodi, California, a farming town with a large Muslim population, was arrested in June 2005 and his sentence in 2007 was once heralded by federal prosecutors after the Sept. 11 attacks against the United States as a proactive victory against terrorism.
The Sacramento Valley office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, a Muslim civil rights group, and Hamid Hayat’s legal counsel Friday welcomed exoneration of Hayat, who they said was wrongfully imprisoned for more than 13 years on terrorism-related charges.
“When Dennis said ‘Hey, congratulations, it’s over!’ I didn’t believe it,” Hayat said Friday afternoon, referring to his attorney, Dennis Riordan. “Honestly, it was like a dream. Thank you to my family, CAIR-Sacramento, my legal team and my supporters for standing by me every step of the way.”
The Council on American-Islamic Relations Sacramento Valley chapter’s Executive Director Basim Elkarra, added, “There aren’t words to express how relieved we are that Hamid is finally going to be truly free.
An innocent man spent nearly 14 years in prison, a family was torn apart and an entire community was left traumatized due to prosecution taking advantage of anti-Muslim, post-9/11 hysteria. We will be here to support Hamid and his family as they work to heal after this egregious injustice.”
Sacramento’s U.S. Attorney’s office, which originally charged Hayat and his father, Umer, in highly charged, post-911 cases, said the decision was made after consultations with U.S. Justice Department officials in Washington.