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Federal judge denies motion for mistrial in ex-Guantanamo detainee trial

A judge for the US District Court for the Southern District of New York [official website] on Monday denied a defense motion for mistrial in the trial of ex-Guantanamo Bay detainee Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani [GlobalSecurity profile; JURIST news archive]. The motion came after an anonymous juror's note was read in court, indicating that the juror was alone in her views and was being attacked for her conclusions [NYT report]. The juror requested to be removed or replaced. The note came on the third day of deliberations in the high-profile case, which is the first of the Obama administration's attempts to try prominent terror suspects in federal court [LAT report]. Judge Lewis Kaplan denied the juror's request and instructed the jury to continue their deliberations. In denying the motion, Kaplan noted that it was unrealistic to expect a unanimous verdict so soon [Bloomberg report] given the size of the trial record, which has swelled to 2,200 pages with hundreds of pieces of evidence.

Ghailani faces charges for his alleged involvement in the 1998 bombings of US embassies [PBS backgrounder; JURIST news archive] in Tanzania and Kenya. The trial began in October with opening statements, following a delay when Kaplan barred key US government witness [JURIST reports] Hussein Abebe from testifying. In July, Kaplan ruled that Ahmed Ghailani is not suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and is fit to stand trial [JURIST report]. In June, Kaplan denied a request from Ghailani to be exempt from prison strip searches, citing security concerns [JURIST report]. In May, Kaplan refused to dismiss criminal charges against Ghailani despite claims that he had been tortured in prison. Kaplan held that even if Ghailani was mistreated while in Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) [official website] custody, there was no connection between that and the current prosecution [JURIST report].

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