Liberty Seven defendent aquited of terrorism charges remains behind bars

Acquitted man languishing behind bars

Acquitted man languishing behind bars
By FRED GRIMM
fgrimm@MiamiHerald.com

Lyglenson Lemorin committed an offense tantamount to a terror attack. He embarrassed Homeland Security.

Which explains why he’s still behind bars 520 days after being exonerated by a Miami jury.

Remember Lemorin? He was indicted in 2006 as an operative in a hapless terrorist gaggle known as the Liberty City Seven. The first trial ended Dec. 13, 2007. The jurors deadlocked on all but one defendant.

Lemorin was acquitted of four scary charges. A big mistake, getting that not-guilty verdict.

Reducing the Liberty City Seven to the Liberty City Six didn’t sit well with Justice Department apparatchiks who had gone to considerable expense painting Lemorin and associates as homegrown al Qaeda desperados, bent on blowing up buildings, wreaking havoc and killing Americans.

DEPORTATION ORDER

After the verdict, Lemorin was bound in chains like the terrorist he wasn’t and whisked away that very night to a federal detention center in rural Georgia, far from his wife and three kids in Miami. Homeland Security cajoled an immigration judge into issuing a deportation order for Lemorin, a legal permanent resident, based on the very charges disproved in U.S. District Court.

Lemorin has been denied bond, languishing in custody since his arrest 35 months ago, though four presumably more culpable defendants were allowed to post bail while awaiting their second and third trials. He was inside a high-security lockup near Jacksonville on Tuesday when a jury finally convicted five of the six remaining defendants for . . . I don’t know. Feigning terrorism?

PAID INFORMANT

Evidence at the three trials revealed that Miami’s would-be al Qaeda members were poor, inept and easily manipulated by a paid FBI informant and their twisted, semi-Messianic gang leader, Narseal Batiste (the one defendant among the wretched bunch worth pursuing). Without weapons or means (other than military boots and a camera supplied by the informant), jihad was clearly beyond their capabilities.

Lemorin had severed his tenuous ties with Batiste and left town weeks before the FBI moved in. That persuaded a jury to let him go. But not Homeland Security, which spent more than $10 million pumping this case into a national show trial.

`IT’S A PERSECUTION’

The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement cajoled a deportation order out of an immigration judge, intending to vanquish Lemorin, 34, a Florida resident since he was 11, to Haiti. ”It’s a persecution, not a prosecution,” said Charles Kuck, the pro-bono immigration attorney handling the appeal.

Jury verdicts apparently don’t cut much ice with ICE. On April 6, ICE sent eight carloads of agents to snatch Youssef Megahed, a 23-year-old legal resident, from a Tampa Wal-Mart parking lot and begin deportation proceedings. Three days earlier, a jury had found Megahed not guilty of terror-related charges. Four of the jurors signed a statement calling his arrest “a blatant disregard for the will of its own people.”

‘This sure looks and feels like some sort of `double jeopardy’ even if it doesn’t precisely fit the legal definition of that prohibited practice,” the jurors complained.

The jurors were referring to the Tampa case, though their words resonated through Miami like an echo.

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