By Carol J. Williams and Geraldine Baum, Los Angeles Times
November 18, 2010
U.S. civilian court acquits ex-Guantanamo detainee of all major terrorism charges
The verdict involving a suspect in the 1998 bombings of two U.S. embassies in Africa may complicate efforts to try Sept. 11 defendants in nonmilitary U.S. courts. But Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani may still face life in prison without parole for his conviction on a lesser count.
Reporting from Los Angeles and New York —
A New York federal jury acquitted alleged Al Qaeda accomplice Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani on Wednesday of all major terrorism charges in the 1998 suicide bombings of two U.S. embassies in Africa that killed 224 people, including 12 Americans.
In the first trial of a former Guantanamo Bay prisoner in civilian court, the Tanzanian was convicted of one count of conspiracy to damage or destroy U.S. property but cleared of 276 counts of murder and attempted murder. The government said it would seek the maximum sentence of life without parole on the conspiracy count.
The verdict could presage trouble for President Obama's plans to close the U.S. military prison in Cuba and bring its remaining detainees to the United States for trial. Officials who want military commissions to try the men argue that terrorism suspects would get too many rights and protections in civilian court.
"This tragic verdict demonstrates the absolute insanity of the Obama administration's decision to try Al Qaeda terrorists in civilian courts," Rep. Peter T. King (R-N.Y.) said, calling the Ghailani ruling "a total miscarriage of justice."
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