Federal judge refuses to dismiss charges against ex-Guantanamo detainee

[JURIST] A federal judge on Tuesday refused to dismiss charges [opinion, PDF] against former Guantanamo Bay [JURIST news archive] detainee Ahmed Ghailani [GlobalSecurity profile; JURIST news archive], ruling that his Sixth Amendment [text] right to a speedy trial was not violated. Ghailani's lawyers had sought a dismissal of charges, arguing that he was denied the right to a speedy trial [JURIST reports] while being detained for nearly five years in Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) [official website] secret prisons and later at Guantanamo Bay. Judge Lewis Kaplan of the US District Court for the Southern District of New York (SDNY) [official website] rejected this argument:

Considering all of the circumstances, particularly the lack of significant prejudice of the sort that the Speedy Trial Clause was intended to prevent, the delay in this case did not materialy infringe upon any interest protected by the right to a speedy trial. The Court therefore holds that Ghailani's Sixth Amendment right to a speedy trial has not been violated.
Kaplan's ruling cleared the way for Ghailani to face a civilian trial in September for his alleged role in the 1998 bombings of US embassies [PBS backgrounder] in Kenya and Tanzania.

Earlier this month, Kaplan ruled that Ghailani is not suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and is therefore fit to stand trial [JURIST report]. The issue of Ghailani's psychological state arose after he requested to be exempt [JURIST report] from prison strip searches because it triggers his PTSD, which he allegedly acquired while being interrogated at an overseas CIA detention camp. The exemption request was filed in May after Kaplan ruled that Ghailani must attend the opening of his trial [JURIST report], requiring him to submit to strip searches. Also in May, Kaplan refused to dismiss criminal charges [JURIST report] against Ghailani, despite his lawyer's claims that he had been tortured in prison. 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.

 

About Paper Chase

Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

© Copyright JURIST Legal News and Research Services, Inc., 2013.