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Prosecutors appeal Umer Hayat’s bail — again

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Posted: Tuesday, December 20, 2005 10:00 pm

Government prosecutors dashed Umer Hayat’s latest hopes of getting out of jail by filing an appeal late Monday, asking a federal judge to once again deny the Lodi man bail.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Dale A. Drozd had given prosecutors seven days to appeal his decision. Had they not done so by the end of Monday, Hayat would have been released from the Sacramento County Jail, where he has been held since early June.

The 47-year-old ice cream truck driver and his 23-year-old son, Hamid Hayat, were arrested June 5 during a FBI investigation into possible terror links in Lodi. Three other men, including two leaders of the Lodi Muslim Mosque, were also detained and subsequently deported for immigration violations.

Umer Hayat faces one count of lying to the FBI about his alleged knowledge of terror training camps in Pakistan. His son is charged with two counts of lying to agents about the camps, as well as a charge of providing material support to terrorists. He remains jailed without bail.

After a judge initially granted Umer Hayat $1.2 million bail Sept. 26, the matter has been subject to numerous court documents, appeals and arguments. Nearly three months later, the issue remains far from over: The government’s Monday appeal will be heard by another judge, and that decision could then be appealed to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.

In the 60-page ruling filed Monday night, prosecutors argued that Drozd relied on witness testimony that should have been thrown out. Umer Hayat’s cousin, Safdar Afzal, testified that he initially told FBI agents that he wasn’t close to his cousin, but that he actually saw the man regularly and was merely afraid of the FBI.

However, when Assistant U.S. Attorney Laura L. Ferris began questioning Afzal about lying to the FBI — the same charge Umer Hayat is facing — defense attorney Johnny L. Griffin III objected and Drozd halted the proceedings and appointed Afzal an attorney. Afzal, whose home is one of four that will serve as the $1.2 million bond, later invoked his Fifth Amendment rights and refused to testify to avoid self incrimination.

Because of that, prosecutors wrote in the most recent filing, “The defendant was permitted to elicit favorable testimony, but the government was not granted its fundamental right to test the veracity of the witness’ statements and to inquire into various matters on direct.”

In the appeal signed by Ferris and Assistant U.S. Attorney S. Robert Tice-Raskin, they argued that Afzal’s property should not be used as bail, and that his elderly father’s home should also be denied because the man showed signs of dementia on the witness stand.

The matter has not yet been scheduled for another court hearing.

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