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Questions on false statements

In the Sami Al-Hussayen jury’s first day of deliberations yesterday, it ran into questions right away about its complex instructions. One of the questions was this: “Does false statement or fraudulent statement include omission by definition?”

In answer, Judge Edward Lodge just referred the jurors back to sections 45 and 46 of their instructions, which define “false statement,” “fraudulent statement” and “knowingly.”

The instructions say, “A ‘false statement’ requires the government to prove that the defendant knew the statement was untrue. A ‘fraudulent statement’ requires the government to prove that the statement was known by the defendant to be untrue and that the defendant made the statement with the intent to deceive.”

There’s no mention in the instructions about omissions.

The issue matters because, in addition to three terrorism-related charges, Al-Hussayen faces seven charges of visa fraud and four of false statements, all for entering the country while certifying that he was coming here “solely” to study. The government charges that his computer work for an Islamic group contradicts that.

Two of the charges relate specifically to a supplemental form that foreign students have been required to fill out since the 2001 terrorist attacks that asks them to list the charitable, fraternal or professional organizations they’re involved with. Al-Hussayen listed just two engineering societies, and didn’t mention the Islamic Assembly of North America.

Defense attorneys, in their closing arguments, noted that the supplemental form, unlike other official forms, requires no signature or certification. It also doesn’t mention religious organizations, though that fact wasn’t highlighted in the arguments.

Prosecutor Kim Lindquist, in his closing comments, said, “Could it be more clear of what it’s requiring of the defendant, to fill this out? … What a lame explanation for this, what a miserably lame excuse for this – because he didn’t sign it.”

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Betsy Z. Russell covers Idaho news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Boise.

Named best state-based political blog in Idaho for 2013 by The Fix

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