First Guantanamo detainee in civilian prosecution acquitted on all but one charge

On November 17, 2010, a jury in the US District Court for the Southern District of New York convicted Ahmed Khalan Ghailani of one count of conspiracy to damage or destroy US property in connection with the 2008 US embassy bombings in Tanzania and Kenya. Ghailani was the first ex-Guantanamo detainee to be tried in civilian court — an initiative endorsed by the Obama administration. Ghailani received the maximum sentence of life in prison, but was acquitted of 284 other counts that included conspiracy, murder and attempted murder. Critics of civilian prosecutions cited the disproportionate acquittals and exclusion of key testimony from the government's case due to "enhanced interrogation techniques" as evidence that terrorism suspects should be remanded to military proceedings.

Learn more about the controversy over the civilian prosecution from the JURIST news archive and read commentary on the issue from JURIST Guest Columnists Lawrence Friedman and Victor Hansen in Forum. You can also read comprehensive coverage about the Guantanamo Bay military detention center in Features.


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