US terror trial jury takes three day break

November 13, 2010 12:00 am

, NEW YORK, Nov 13 – The New York jury in the first civilian trial of a former Guantanamo Bay prisoner began a three-day weekend Friday after failing to reach a verdict in their first two sessions of deliberations.

The jury was given Friday off and will return Monday to the federal court in lower Manhattan to continue deliberating on Ahmed Ghailani\’s case, the US prosecutor\’s office said.

Jurors deliberated on Wednesday and Thursday but there was no sign of an imminent verdict in a trial seen as a test of President Barack Obama\’s plan to transfer alleged terrorists, including the organizer of the September 11, 2001 attacks, to civilian courts.

Ahmed Ghailani, 36, is accused of helping to perpetrate the nearly simultaneous bombings in 1998 of the US embassies in his native Tanzania and in Kenya. The blasts killed 224 people and injured thousands.

Prosecutors say the attacks were organized by Al-Qaeda and that Ghailani helped to buy the Nissan truck, as well as some of the bomb making materials, used to ram into the embassy in Tanzania.

His lawyers say Ghailani, who was held in secret CIA custody and then in Guantanamo Bay after his 2004 arrest, was an innocent dupe used by Al-Qaeda operatives and that he never knew about the plot.

On Wednesday, Attorney General Eric Holder said a decision was "close" on how and where to try alleged 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and his four alleged plotters.

Obama\’s administration initially announced plans to prosecute the men in the same New York courthouse where Ghailani is being tried, a few blocks from the site of the World Trade Center destroyed by hijacked airliners on 9/11.

Strong opposition met the plan from lawmakers and New York residents, prompting the federal government to backtrack, saying its decision was under review.


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