Published June 13, 2005
| Associated Press
LONDON – The acquittal of Michael Jackson (search) was broadcast live from the Middle East to the shantytowns of Brazil, and all around the world the pop star's fans and friends rejoiced as he was found not guilty of child molestation charges.
Uri Geller (search), Jackson's psychic friend in Britain, said he was at a loss for words.
"I'm trembling, this is so important. He did not let down his fans and all the people that love him," Geller told The Associated Press. "He went through hell and now the nightmare is over."
As the jury indicated they had reached a decision Monday, British news channels streamed live coverage of the scene outside the court in Santa Maria, Calif.
Interest stretched to the Middle East, with Arab news channels al-Jazeera (search) and al-Arabiya cutting to live footage as Jackson arrived at the courthouse for the verdict.
"The minutes before the verdict were the most nervous moments of my life. Now, these are the happiest moments of my life," said Kent Vilhemsson, 21, watching from Skovde, Sweden.
In Germany, several news channels carried the verdict live, and the top-selling Bild newspaper quickly posted the headline "Acquittal!" on its Web site.
Martin Stock, the founder of a 40-member Jackson fan club in Germany who stayed up to watch the outcome, said he was overjoyed, even though he had expected his idol's acquittal.
"The whole trial was laughable and Michael was treated inhumanly. I think people were trying to throw him into prison to get at his money," Stock said.
Some viewers were old fans but jaded by the chain of events.
"I was a tremendous fan of Michael Jackson," said Valdeci Pereira, an evangelist preacher in the Dona Marta shantytown in Rio de Janeiro, where Jackson filmed a video in 1996. "The magic is forgotten. People will never listen to his music the same way again."
And in the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico, several women with children said they were stunned. Brenda del Valle, 35, who has a young daughter, called the verdict "outrageous."
"As a mother, I think it is not fair to subject that entire family and the boy to that judicial process only to have nothing happen," del Valle said.
In Mexico City, however, at least one person expressed satisfaction with the verdict.
"Strange is strange, but it's not illegal," said library worker Rogelio Mendez, 35. "I think he's pretty weird, but not a criminal."
In Romania, where Jackson is widely popular after staging two huge concerts in 1992 and 1996 and donating a playground to an orphanage in Bucharest, fans were elated.
"It couldn't have been a better verdict, although it was the only verdict they could have come up with," said fan Alexandru Ciocodeica. He and other fans said they were crying with joy.
While some were shocked by the case, the verdict came as no surprise.
The Romanian pop star Loredana Groza said "I expected him to be declared innocent. America defends its idols."
Emilia Janebris, 25, watched the verdict live on television at a friend's apartment in Stockholm, Sweden. She has been a Jackson fan since she was 13 and has seen him live six times.
"I think I'm dying, I'm so happy," she said, crying uncontrollably.
Ben Jack'son, a 30-year-old Michael Jackson impersonator who lives in Paris, said he was delighted and relieved. Jack'son, who declined to give his real name, said demand for his shows has fallen by about half since the start of the trial.
"At last, at last, he is rehabilitated in the eyes of the world!" he said. "Everybody thinks he can buy everything with his money. But this victory couldn't be bought with money."
Yann Kervarec of Lille, a 29-year-old Web designer who runs a French fan site,was online with other fans in a chat room when the verdict was announced.
"I was listening, and every time they said, 'Not guilty,' I had a bigger smile," he said. "We kept writing in capitals on the screen, "NOT GUILTY!!!! It was a virtual cry of joy."