Gitmo man on trial seeks dismissal

December 3, 2009 12:00 am

, WASHINGTON, Dec 3 – Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani, the first detainee to be transferred from Guantanamo to New York for trial, says all charges against him should be dismissed because his constitutional rights were violated.

Ghailani, a Tanzanian accused of helping plot the 1998 attacks on US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, argues that he has not been given his constitutional rights to a fair and speedy trial.

He also claims to have suffered "abhorrent" physical and psychological abuse at the hands of interrogators, his lawyers said in a court filing.

The trial of Ghailani, 34, is being closely watched because it is the first involving a suspect transferred from the controversial facility at the US naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

It also comes as President Barack Obama\\\’s administration has announced plans to transfer five men accused of plotting the September 11, 2001 attacks from Guantanamo for trial in New York city.

Ghailani and the five 9/11 co-accused, who include self-professed attacks mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, were all held in secret Central Intelligence Agency prisons overseas and subjected to harsh interrogation techniques.

The US government is not seeking the death penalty for Ghailani, though it will do for the 9/11 accused.

In a legal filing dated November 16, obtained by AFP after it was reviewed for classified information, Ghailani\\\’s lawyers noted that the original indictment against their client dates from 1998.

"Our government made the conscious and deliberate decision to sequester him in solitary confinement in secret prisons for over two years, subjecting him to what are euphemistically referred to as \\\’enhanced interrogation techniques,\\\’ even though he had a pending indictment," the filing said.

His lawyers add that the US government sought to turn Ghailani "into an intelligence asset which our government could rely upon in the defense of our nation."

The government\\\’s decision to risk violating Ghailani\\\’s right to speedy trial in order to gain intelligence from him must have "consequences," the lawyers added.

"Those consequences must be severe when the means and methods used by the government to reach their goal included the systematic physical and psychological abuse of the defendant, abuse so abhorrent that the government must rely upon a claim of national security as a justification for the interrogation techniques that were employed," the lawsuit said.

Judge Lewis Kaplan has sole discretion to rule on the case and his decision can be appealed before the US Supreme Court.

Ghailani, who faces 308 charges, is accused of helping plot attacks on the US embassies in Nairobi and Dar-es-Salaam, which killed 224 people and injured more than 5,000.

Obama\\\’s administration announced its plan to try the five Guantanamo detainees accused of plotting the 9/11 attacks in New York as it works to close the controversial facility.

Obama has acknowledged his administration will likely miss a self-imposed January 2010 deadline to close the prison.


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