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Federal judge orders ex-Guantanamo detainee to attend trial despite strip searches

A federal judge ruled Thursday that former Guantanamo Bay [JURIST news archive] detainee Ahmed Ghailani [GlobalSecurity profile; JURIST news archive] must attend the opening of his trial, requiring him to submit to strip searches he claims are traumatic. Judge Lewis Kaplan of the US District Court for the Southern District of New York (SDNY) [official website] ruled that Ghailani is competent to waive his right to attend court proceedings, but that he must appear at least once [Reuters report] at the opening of his trial. Ghailani has claimed that the strip searches trigger the post-traumatic stress disorder [WSJ report] he suffers as a result of his treatment at Guantanamo. Ghailani's trial is set to begin in September.

Ghailani faces charges for his alleged involvement in the 1998 bombings of US embassies [PBS backgrounder; JURIST news archive] in Tanzania and Kenya, which killed 224 people. In January, Ghailani's lawyers argued that the charges should be dismissed [JURIST report] because he was denied his right to a speedy trial. In November, Kaplan ruled that Ghailani does not have a right to be represented by his military defense lawyers [JURIST report] in a civilian court. In July, Ghailani's military lawyers requested access [JURIST report] to the CIA "black sites" at which their client was held prior to his transfer to Guantanamo Bay and was allegedly subjected to cruel interrogation methods. Ghailani was the first Guantanamo detainee to be brought to the US for prosecution. Having been held at the Guantanamo facility since 2006, Ghailani was transferred [JURIST report] to the SDNY in June to face 286 separate counts, including involvement in the bombings and conspiring with Osama bin Laden and other members of al Qaeda to kill Americans worldwide. He pleaded not guilty [JURIST report] at his initial appearance.

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