April 25, 2006

Mistrial declared for Calif. man in terrorism case

SACRAMENTO, California (Reuters) - A District Court judge
declared a mistrial on Tuesday in the trial of a
Pakistani-American man charged with lying to federal
investigators during a terrorism probe.

Judge Garland Burrell Jr. released jurors who had
deadlocked in the case of 48-year-old Umer Hayat, a Lodi,
California man. Prosecutors had charged him with lying during a
probe into whether he and his son Hamid Hayat, 23, had links to
terrorism training camps in Pakistan.

"Each juror felt they had gone as far as they could go and
no one was going to change their minds," said Carol Davis, a
spokeswoman for the U.S. District Court for the Eastern
District of California in Sacramento.

Jurors continue to deliberate over charges facing Hamid
Hayat. Federal prosecutors have charged him with lying to
investigators and providing material support to terrorists.

The father and son initially told investigators that they
had no knowledge of the camps. But later in videotaped
confessions the elder Hayat said he visited several camps as an
observer, including a camp where his son had said he had

Defense attorneys said the two told investigators what they
wanted to hear.

The elder Hayat felt pressured into making a confession,
defense lawyer Johnny Griffin III said.

"He knew his son was being held and he believed they would
let him and his son go if he cooperated," Griffin told Reuters.

"He's not a terrorist. There is no evidence he is a
terrorist," Griffin said. "Hopefully the government will not
retry this case."

U.S. Attorney McGregor Scott said in a statement that the
government is weighing its options: "Between now and the status
conference the court set for May 5, the United States will
evaluate its case against Umer Hayat and determine what course
of action to pursue."

The Federal Bureau of Investigation arrested Hayat, an ice
cream truck driver, and his son in June 2005. The FBI's probe
was aided by an informant in the Muslim community of Lodi, a
farm town south of Sacramento, the state capital.

(Reporting by Michael Fitzgerald in Sacramento, California)