Civilian trial of Gitmo detainee proceeds
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Last Updated: Wednesday, October 13, 2010, 21:49
New York: After a US district court judge rejected a key witness of the prosecution, the first trial of a Guantanamo Bay detainee in a civilian court began on Wednesday.

Judge Lewis Kaplan had last week refused to admit the witness since prosecution learnt about the witness from information procured through torturing the defendant, Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani, in an overseas jail run by the CIA.

Ghailani who has spent the last six years in "black sites" and Guantanamo Bay, is accused of participating in the bombing of US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998, which killed 224 people.

"At 10:39 that morning, that truck bomb explodes with vicious and lethal force," Lewin said in court as quoted by CNN.

"By the time the smoke clears that morning, 11 people are dead."

Lewin said an al Qaeda cell connected with Osama bin Laden was responsible for both of the bombings.

"This man Ahmed Ghailani was a member of that cell," he said.

On the other hand, Ghailani's attorney Steve Zissou declared his innocence.

"He is not simply presumed innocent. He is innocent," he said.

CNN reported that the prosecution further alleged that Ghailani had packed bought the truck used in the Tanzania bombing and then packed it with industrial-size gas tanks filled with oxygen and combustible gas to ensure a massive blast.

"The defendant did all of this because he and his accomplices were committed to al Qaeda's overriding goal to kill Americans," Lewin said.

US Ambassador John Lange, one of the survivors of the bombing, was called as the prosecution's first witness. Ghailani was a "dupe" that al Qaeda used, according to Zissou.

"Ahmed did not go to traning camps. He did not get indoctrinated. He did not become a member of al Qaeda," the lawyer said.

The first day of trial, which didn’t take off last week, had also brought home the difficulties of conducting trials for Gitmo detainees in civilian courts a problem that the Obama administration has been struggling with.

Attorney General Eric Holder's wanted to prosecute Al Qaeda Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and other 9/11 plotters in New York City but the proposal met with great resistance from New Yorkers especially due to the potential safety hazard it could prove to be since the trials could last for years.


First Published: Wednesday, October 13, 2010, 21:49

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