Entries in Ahmed Ghailani (2)


First Civilian Trial for Gitmo Detainee Gets Underway

Photo Courtesy - John Moore/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- The first civilian trial for a detainee once held in the U.S. facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba got underway Tuesday in a New York City courtroom.

Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani is alleged to have helped build the bombs that exploded at the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in August of 1998.  A dozen Americans were among the 224 people killed in the blasts that were allegedly plotted by al-Qaida.

Ghailani’s trial was supposed to have started last week, but the judge wouldn't allow the prosecution’s star witness to testify.  The defense successfully argued the witness’ testimony against Ghailani was inadmissible because the information was coerced out of him during what lawyers alleged were harsh interrogation techniques employed overseas.

The government decided to move ahead with the trial without calling upon the witness.  Ghailani contends he’s innocent and that he didn’t know what he was delivering would be used to bomb the embassies.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Update: First Civilian Trial for Gitmo Detainee Delayed

Photo Courtesy - John Moore/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- The first civilian trial of a Guantanamo Bay detainee has been put on hold.  Opening arguments were expected Wednesday in New York for the case against detainee Ahmed Ghailani, but in a blow to prosecutors, a judge has ruled the government cannot call its most important witness at the trial.  Court has been delayed until Oct. 12 while prosecutors decide whether to appeal.

Federal Judge Lewis Kaplan's ruling blocks the government from calling the man who authorities said sold explosives to defendant Ghailani.  Defense lawyers say investigators only learned about the witness after Ghailani underwent harsh interrogation at a CIA-run camp overseas.

Ghailani is the only Guantanamo inmate to have been transferred into the civilian court system.  If the trial ends with a conviction and heavy sentence, it could help the Obama administration's case for closing Guantanamo and bringing five alleged Sept. 11 plotters to New York to face trial, including 9/11 architect Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.

Ghailani is not linked to the Sept. 11 attacks, but is charged with playing a key role in the 1998 bombings of American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.  However, since his profile is similar to those involved in the 9/11 attacks, his case has been viewed as a test for civilian prosecutions of terror suspects.

Until recently, Ghailani spent years imprisoned at Guantanamo Bay without legal protection, which could complicate the trial.  Fordham Law School's Jim Cohen says, "There's secret evidence for lots of different reasons and it's not clear how much secret evidence there will be in this case."

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

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