Appeals court upholds ruling on Al-Arian

Published March 24, 2007


A federal appeals court on Friday affirmed a civil contempt ruling against former University of South Florida professor Sami Al-Arian, who has refused to testify in front of a federal grand jury investigating Islamic charities in northern Virginia.

Al-Arian claimed that a plea agreement in his Florida prosecution exempts him from testifying before the grand jury in Alexandria, Va. A three-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously rejected that argument.

Also Friday, Al-Arian's family announced he will suspend his 60-day water-only hunger strike and begin a liquid-only fast, the Tampa Bay Coalition for Justice and Peace reported.

Al-Arian began a hunger strike Jan. 22 to protest the grand jury subpoena and the contempt citation. His family visited him recently at a medical prison in Butner, N.C. and urged him to stop. He had lost 55 pounds.

Staff and wire reports


New hospice to serve east-central Pasco

Gulfside Center for Hospice Care is setting up a 12-bed in-patient care facility at Dean Dairy Road in Zephyrhills.

It will be staffed around the clock and serve mostly residents of east and central Pasco County, a news release said.

An on-staff physician will oversee patients' care, but the hospice also allows visits from social workers, chaplains, volunteers and the patients' own doctors.


Fund set up for emergency director's children

When Pinellas County emergency management director Gary Vickers died Monday, he left behind three daughters, ages 16, 19 and 23.

A trust fund has been established for them. Donations may be sent to the Vickers Memorial Trust, 1906 Cutty Bay Court, Oldsmar, FL 34677.

Vickers was involved in a car accident over a month ago, and he had lapsed into a persistent vegetative state. He was 53.

A public memorial service is scheduled for 2 p.m. Sunday at Calvary Baptist Church, 110 N McMullen-Booth Road.


Critical report puts chief on unpaid leave

Brooksville police Chief Ed Tincher was put on unpaid leave Friday after an investigation found numerous misdeeds at the Police Department.

On the same day, the 29-year veteran of the force filed for medical leave for a heart problem.

Frank Ross, a former police chief from St. Cloud, was named the interim police chief.

Tincher, 56, has been on paid administrative leave since February, but after the release of the blistering 27-page report about him and his transfer to unpaid suspension, the table has been set for his termination.