Civilian trial of Gitmo detainee proceeds

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

"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

"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

"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.


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

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