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Man accused in kidnapping acquitted

One of three men accused of kidnapping a Claremont man for ransom in December was acquitted by an Olmsted County jury Thursday.

After deliberating for five hours, Osman Siddig Omer, 20, of Sioux Falls, S.D., was acquitted on all three charges — two counts of aiding and abetting kidnapping and one count of aiding and abetting false imprisonment.

Prosecutors had alleged that the victim's brother had sold 2.2 pounds of cocaine in Claremont to co-defendant Hussein Haji Hassan for $26,000 to $28,000. After the transaction, the brother returned to Mexico, but Hassan became angry when he learned that the substance sold was not cocaine, according to the prosecution's case.

To get his money back, Hassan decided to take the victim to his Rochester apartment and hold him for ransom, prosecutors allege.

Hassan pleaded guilty to second-degree aggravated robbery in July. The kidnapping and false imprisonment charges were dismissed.


Both Omer and Hassan's brother, Seyfu Haji Hassan, 25, were accused of planning to meet a police officer who was pretending to be the victim's friend at a Rochester restaurant to pick up the ransom money.

During opening arguments Tuesday, Omer's attorney Fred Suhler Jr. told the jury that Omer had been attending South Dakota State University and that he was only visiting friends who lived at the apartment complex when he was followed by police and arrested.

"Basically, the issue in this case was that my client's vehicle was used and the jury found that didn't constitute as assistance in the crime," Suhler said. "The jury wrestled with the question for five hours."

Suhler said his client is "extremely relieved and so am I because he's a good kid."

Prosecuting attorney James Spencer could not be reached for comment Friday.

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