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

Photogallery Pistorius Sentenced, Taken to Prison

Pistorius, convicted of culpable homicide in shooting death of girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, will likely serve about 10 months of five-year sentence, before completing it under house arrest More

UN to Aid Central Africa in Polio Vaccinations

Synchronized vaccinations will be conducted after Cameroon reports a fifth case of the wild polio virus in its territory More

WHO: Ebola Vaccine May Be in Use by Jan.

WHO assistant director Dr. Marie Paule Kieny says clinical trials of Ebola vaccines are underway or planned in Europe, US and Africa 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.
After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rulesi
X
October 21, 2014 12:20 AM
European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.
Video

Video Young Nairobi Tech Innovator on 'Track' in Security Business

A 24-year-old technology innovator in Nairobi has invented a tracking device that monitors and secures cars. He has also come up with what he claims is the most robust audio-visual surveillance system yet. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from the Kenyan capital, his innovations are offering alternative security solutions.
Video

Video Latinas Converting to Islam for Identity, Structure

Latinos are one of the fastest growing groups in the Muslim religion. According to the Pew Research Center, about 6 percent of American Muslims are Latino. And a little more than half of new converts are female. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti travelled to Miami, Florida -- where two out of every three residents is Hispanic -- to learn more.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video North Carolina Emerges as Key Election Battleground

U.S. congressional midterm elections will be held on November 4th and most political analysts give Republicans an excellent chance to win a majority in the U.S. Senate, which Democrats now control. So what are the issues driving voters in this congressional election year? VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone traveled to North Carolina, one of the most politically competitive states in the country, to find out.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

All About America

AppleAndroid