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Federal judge denies request to overturn ex-Guantanamo detainee's conviction

A judge for the US District Court for the Southern District of New York [official website] on Friday denied a request [opinion, PDF] to throw out the conviction of former Guantanamo Bay [JURIST news archive] detainee Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani [GlobalSecurity profile; JURIST news archive]. In his ruling, Judge Lewis Kaplan stated that the evidence presented at trial was sufficient to allow the jury to find Ghailani a "knowing and willing participation" in the 1998 bombing [PBS backgrounder] of two US embassies in Tanzania and Kenya, in which 12 Americans and 212 others were killed. The defense had argued that the conviction was inconsistent with the fact that that the jury exonerated the defendant [NYT report] on 284 other counts but convicted him on one charge of conspiracy. Ghailani is scheduled to be sentenced next week [Reuters report] and faces a minimum of 20 years in prison.

In October, the court first heard arguments in the Ghailani trial [JURIST report], the first civilian trial of a former Guantanamo Bay detainee. An attorney for Ghailani argued during the opening statements that al Qaeda [JURIST news archive] took advantage of Ghailani's youth and that Ghailani was unaware of the terrorists' criminal plans. In July, Kaplan refused to dismiss charges [JURIST report] against Ghailani ruling that his Sixth Amendment right to a speedy trial was not violated. Ghailani's lawyers 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 CIA secret prisons and later at Guantanamo Bay. Earlier in July, Kaplan ruled that Ghailani was not suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, and was therefore fit to stand trial [JURIST report].

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