News / USA

US Tries First Guantanamo Terrorist Suspect

This September 29, 2010 courtroom sketch shows defendant Ahmad Khalfan Ghailani (L) during jury selection in New York. Ghailani remains the only detainee from Guantanamo Bay to be brought to the United States so far.
This September 29, 2010 courtroom sketch shows defendant Ahmad Khalfan Ghailani (L) during jury selection in New York. Ghailani remains the only detainee from Guantanamo Bay to be brought to the United States so far.

Multimedia

Peter Fedynsky

Jury selection is underway in New York in the trial of Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani. He is the first suspect held at the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba to be tried in an American civilian court.  The Tanzanian national is accused of terrorism in the 1998 bombings of two U.S. embassies in Africa and conspiracy with al-Qaida to kill Americans around the world.

Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani was captured in 2004 in Pakistan as a suspect in the bombing six years earlier of U.S. embassies in Kenya and his native Tanzania. He was sent to Guantanamo in 2006.

A judge ruled against his lawyers' attempts to dismiss the case on grounds Ghailani was subjected to prolonged detention and harsh interrogation at Guantanamo.  Observers say the defense is likely to now use those issues in an appeal to jurors about fairness.  The prosecution is expected to focus on earlier evidence related to the bombings.

Matthew Waxman is a Columbia University associate law professor and Senior Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. "The prosecution, on the other hand, is going to do everything it can to say, this is not a case about what happened at the hands of the CIA, or in fact even about events after 9/11.  This is about events that took place well before 9/11," he said.

Secrecy is another issue.  Legal analyst James Cohen says there could be a conflict between the need to present evidence and to avoid revealing how America gathers foreign intelligence. "The government is going to continue to try to keep secret as much as it thinks it can and release only what they have to to the participants in court and to the larger public, but the judge ultimately will decide this and there could be a clash," he said.

The U.S. Bill of Rights says no American shall be compelled to be a witness against himself and also guarantees a citizen's right to a speedy trial.  Matthew Waxman notes the Ghailani trial may set precedents. "These types of cases raise broader issues of what kinds of rights, constitutional rights, extend to non-citizens captured abroad," he said.

Waxman says terrorism trials in American courts raise concerns about the security of courthouses, witnesses and jurors.  James Cohen says this has not been an issue in earlier terrorism cases. "I think so far it's perfectly clear that it can be done, and indeed there are other examples across the country where we've tried these kinds of cases in a regular federal court and the trial has been perfectly fine," he said.

Cohen says the Ghailani case demonstrates to the world America's commitment to the rule of law.  Waxman agrees.  But he notes it is not likely to end the debate over whether foreign terrorism suspects should be tried in American civilian courts or by military tribunals.

You May Like

Diplomats Work to Extend Israeli-Palestinian Cease-Fire

US Secretary of State John Kerry, diplomats from France, Britain, Germany, Italy, Turkey and Qatar gathered in Paris Saturday to discuss crisis More

Photogallery US Defense Department Warns of Arms to Eastern Ukraine

‘Imminent’ delivery of Russian rocket launcher poses threat to civilians, US says More

Video Researchers: Africa Genetically Modified Crops Held Back by Scaremongering

GM crops offer best hope of increasing productivity and coping with climate change in Africa, according to co-author of Chatham House report More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Astronauts Train in Underwater Labi
X
George Putic
July 25, 2014 7:25 PM
In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid