Trying Guantanamo Detainees in Civil Court May Cease After Accused Terrorist Is Acquitted of 284 Charges

November 18, 2010

(ChattahBox U.S. News)—The Obama administration’s plan to try Guantanamo Bay detainees in federal civilian court may have hit a giant speed bump yesterday after the first of those detainees was found guilty on just one out of 285 charges. Tanzanian native Ahmed Ghailani was accused of multiple murder charges for his role in the 1998 U.S. embassy bombings in East Africa, but a jury found him guilty only of conspiracy to damage or destroy U.S. property, the Washington Post reports.

Despite the potential of a long sentence, government officials are considering the fact that Ghailani was found guilty of only one charge to be “a close call”—if he had been cleared of all charges, the administration may have had to force him back into military custody, the Post reports. He has been in Guantanamo Bay since Sept. 2006 but was in CIA custody prior to that, and the prosecution in this case did not introduce any statements Ghailani made to the CIA.

In addition, the judge would not allow a witness to testify that he sold Ghailani explosives used in the attack, because the judge ruled that the U.S. government only learned of the witness’s account through coercive CIA interrogations, the Post reports. The trial’s ultimate outcome has led Republican leaders to vilify the Obama administration’s decision to try Ghailani in a civil trial, urging the government instead to rely on military commissions for these types of situations.


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