Elashi was a founding board member of CAIR-Texas.
U.S. District Judge A. Joe Fish threatened to bar one of the Holy Land trial defendants from the courtroom Monday after he shouted in frustration as the courtroom was clearing for a mid-morning break.
It wasn’t immediately clear what Ghassan Elashi, the Holy Land Foundation’s former board chairman, said after the judge had left and the jury was exiting, but he yelled and pointed as court security guards escorted him to a holding cell. During breaks and at night, Mr. Elashi goes back into federal custody to serve time on a previous sentence.
Judge Fish addressed the outburst after jurors left the courtroom for their lunch break.
“It was reported to me during the last recess, although I didn’t hear it myself, as the jury was leaving the courtroom, there was an outburst from Ghassan Elashi,” Judge Fish said. “It was reported to me that [Mr. Elashi said] “˜This trial is an extension of a Zionist conspiracy,” or something to that effect. I just need to tell Mr. Elashi, and what I”m saying to him applies to all the defendants, we can’t have outbursts like that that will disrupt the trial.”
He said federal law allows defendants to sit in on their own trials, but “it can be waived” if there are disruptions….
At the time of the outburst, the courtroom was cleared of spectators as an Israeli government agent known by the pseudonym “Avi” was being cross examined. Holy Land supporters and members of the media were listening in through an audio feed in an overflow courtroom.
Khalil Meek, president of the Muslim Legal Fund of America, spoke to the defendants after Mr. Elashi’s outburst. He said that they told him that what triggered the incident was the judge’s decision not to allow into evidence a document that showed the Israeli government appeared to sanction some of the work by one of the Palestinian charity committees Holy Land is accused of illegally funding.