US opposes new trial in embassy bombings

January 13, 2011 12:00 am

, WASHINGTON, Jan 13 – The US government strongly opposes holding a new trial for Tanzanian Ahmed Ghailani, who was convicted of just one of 286 charges against him in the bombings of two US embassies in Africa, court filings showed Wednesday.

Ghailani, the first Guantanamo inmate to be prosecuted in civilian court the United States, was cleared in November after a five-week trial of 285 charges arising from the 1998 US embassy bombings in East Africa that killed 224 people.

He was found guilty of one count of "conspiracy to destroy United States buildings and property," which carries a 20 years-to-life prison sentence.

US officials have said they will seek a life sentence for Ghailani.

The defence however, maintains that the conviction should be vacated and the charges either dismissed or remanded for retrial.

In court documents obtained by AFP, prosecutors said the evidence showed that Ghailani "bought the truck that was loaded with explosives and used to attack the United States Embassy in Tanzania."

The US government maintained that the defendant and an accomplice "bought large metal tanked filled with explosive gases… which tanks were placed into the Tanzania bomb truck to increase its lethal force."

Defense attorneys in their court pleadings however have asserted that the lone guilty verdict is inconsistent with the acquittals on the other counts, and must either be vacated or put to trial again.

His attorneys maintain that the prosecution did not prove its case "that Ghailani had the requisite knowledge and intent necessary to join the conspiracy charged."

Judge Lewis Kaplan has scheduled a January 20 hearing to hear arguments in the case.

Ghailani\’s trial was federal court in New York City, a few blocks from the former World Trade Centre.

First captured in Pakistan in 2004, Ghailani has been held since 2006 at the US naval base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and was the first prisoner to stand trial on the US mainland.

The trial is a test case for the Barack Obama administration, which hopes eventually to close the controversial military prison at Guantanamo Bay, where Ghailani was held, and bring terrorism suspects to civilian trials.


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