Follow her on Twitter @dearabbie.
Guantanamo Detainee to be Tried in NY Court
Tuesday, July 13, 2010
A federal judge cleared the first Guantanamo Bay detainee to be tried in a civilian court for trial on Tuesday.
The Associated Press reports that the detainee is Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani, who was charged with the August 1998 bombing of two U.S. embassies in Africa. Two hundred twenty four people were killed in the blasts, 12 Americans among them. The government has also accused Ghailani of making bombs and forging documents as an aide to Osama bin Laden.
Ghailani pleaded not guilty to the bombing charges, and has been held at Guantanamo Bay for five years since his arrest. Ghailani's defense lawyers argued that he is entitled to a speedy trial because of the five years time he spent at Guantanamo, and because the CIA interrogated him for two years. His interrogation also included waterboarding and "enhanced interrogation" for 14 hours over five days, according to The AP.
In his decision, U.S. District Court Judge Lewis A. Kaplan wrote that Ghailani would not be entitled to a speedy trial because the CIA had conducted the interrogation to protect the United States from an attack. A prisoner's right to a speedy trial would have been violated, Judge Kaplan wrote, if the prosecution was delayed for an extended period while the prisoner faced "appalling or unlawful methods of interrogation even for important national security reasons." But, Kaplan wrote, that did not happen in the case of Ghailani.
Kaplan also wrote that the court was justified in trying Ghailani, a noncitizen, in civilian court.
Ghailani's trial is set for September 27 in New York. Four others were also convicted and sentenced to life in prison for their roles in the embassy bombings in Manhattan in 2001.