Orlando nightclub shooter’s widow acquitted of charges
The June 2016 massacre at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida, resulted in the death of 49 people — the worst terrorist attack on US soil since the September 11, 2001 attacks.world Updated: Mar 30, 2018 22:58 IST
A US jury on Friday acquitted the widow of the Orlando nightclub shooter of charges of helping her husband carry out the Islamic State-inspired massacre and obstructing justice. The trial had started earlier this month.
The June 2016 massacre at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida, by Omar Mateen resulted in the death of 49 people. It is the worst terror attack on US soil since the September 11, 2001 attacks. Mateen had died of injuries suffered during a shootout with law enforcement.
Prosecutors said Noor Salman, who was arrested in January 2017, had known about her husband’s plans and had been a willing participant, though she did not accompany him for the attack. They said she had given misleading statements to the FBI.
The prosecution’s case hinged on a statement Salman had given the FBI, in which she had written: “I am sorry for what happened. I wish I’d go back and tell his family and the police what he was going to do.”
She had admitted to being aware of the weapons being acquired by Mateen, his obsessive viewing of IS propaganda material online, and that he had considered other venues for the attack, including Disney World, prosecutors disclosed.
However, her defence lawyers contended that the confession was obtained from her after 11 hours of questioning and that she did not have a lawyer present at the time.
“She was a suspect, and they wanted to get a confession — except that she was still denying that she knew anything,” Charles D Swift said in his closing argument on Wednesday.
The jury deliberated for about 12 hours over two days, and reached a verdict on Friday.
Orlando Police Chief John Mina said in a statement after the verdict: “I believe in our criminal justice system and am grateful for the jury’s hard work and thoughtful deliberation. Nothing can erase the pain we all feel about the senseless and brutal murders of 49 of our neighbours, friends, family members and loved ones.”
First Published: Mar 30, 2018 21:47 IST