Reporting Edgar Linares
MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO/AP) – Opening statements are set to start in the trial of two Minnesota women accused of funneling money to a terrorist group in Somalia.
After a day and a half of questioning, a panel of 12 jurors and three alternates has been picked to hear the case against 35-year-old Amina Farah Ali and 64-year-old Hawo Mohamed Hassan, who were arrested last August.
The selected jury panel includes 12 women and three men. Opening statements are set for Tuesday afternoon.
A car bombing half a world away became an issue Tuesday morning in the jury selection, as the defendants are accused of sending $8,600 to al-Shabaab, a terrorist organization that took credit for a bombing in Mogadishu on Tuesday. The Associated Press says up to 70 people may have been killed at the Ministry of Education.
Attorneys representing the women told U.S. Chief Judge Michael Davis they’re concerned potential jurors may have heard of the bombing and could’ve been influenced.
Hassan’s attorney Tom Kelly said he heard and saw news of the bombing and ties to his court case on the radio and television.
“It was almost impossible to avoid,” he said.
After jurors walked in and sat down, Davis asked if they had heard of the bombing. One juror raised her hand. The woman met with Davis and attorneys for less than a minute then continued with jury selection.
STILL NO STANDING
Amina Farah Ali continues to not stand for judge and jury.
Tuesday morning, moments before Davis entered the courtroom, she asked her attorney Dan Scott questions about her arrest. He told her, “Every time you don’t stand, the judge adds five more days.”
Seconds later, Davis entered the courtroom. She stayed seated. On Monday, Ali stayed seated five times totaling 25 days in jail. On Tuesday morning she stayed seated at least three times, adding another 15 days to her jail time.
Ali cites religious reasons for not standing and says she will only stand “for Allah.”
Davis ordered Ali jailed and said when the trial starts she will not be allowed in the courtroom. Instead, she will have to monitor the case from another room on closed-circuit television.
Both women are charged with conspiracy, and Hassan is charged with three counts of lying to the FBI.
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