Nov 15 2010
Washington Examiner NEW YORK — Deliberations at the first civilian trial of a Guantanamo detainee hit a snag on Monday when a juror told the judge she felt threatened by other jurors and asked him to be removed from the panel.
The note raised the specter of a hung jury because the juror said she was at odds with the rest of the anonymous panel as they try to settle on a verdict on terror charges against Ahmed Ghailani in federal court in Manhattan.
Mr. Ghailani is the first detainee from Guantanamo to face trial in the U.S. He is facing charges of conspiracy, murder, attempted use of weapons of mass destruction and other charges stemming from two bombing attacks on U.S. embassies in Tanzania and Kenya in 1998 that killed 224 people, including 12 Americans, and injured hundreds more. He has pleaded not guilty.
“My conclusion is not going to change,” she wrote without indicating her position. “I feel (I am being) attacked for my conclusion.”
U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan responded by calling all the jurors into the courtroom, reminding them of his instructions on the law and telling them to continue deliberations, now in their third day.
Prosecutors allege Ghailani helped an al-Qaida cell buy a truck and components for explosives used in a suicide bombing in his native Tanzania on Aug. 7, 1998. The attack in Dar es Salaam and a nearly simultaneous bombing in Nairobi, Kenya, killed 224 people, .
He was captured in 2004 in Pakistan and held by the CIA at a secret overseas camp. In 2006, he was transferred to Guantanamo and held until the decision last year to bring him to New York.
The case is seen as a major test for the Obama administration’s plan to try some detainees who have been held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, in civilian courts, rather than before military tribunals.
In this same case, the judged barred a critical witness from testifying because of ‘harsh interrogation’ techniques.
WSJ Federal prosecutors had wanted to call Hussein Abebe, another Tanzanian man, to testify in the case. Prosecutors previously described Mr. Abebe as a “giant” witness, saying he was expected to testify that he sold dynamite that was ultimately used in the bombing to Mr. Ghailani and that he believed Mr. Ghailani planned to use the explosives for mining.
Defense lawyers had argued that prosecutors learned of Mr. Abebe’s identity as a result of statements made by Mr. Ghailani while he was in the custody of the Central Intelligence Agency. While in CIA custody, Mr. Ghailani was subject to so-called enhanced interrogation techniques, which his lawyers have said equated to torture.
In a brief order last week, U.S. District Judge Lewis A. Kaplan, who is presiding, essentially found that prosecutors failed to show that Mr. Abebe’s potential testimony was sufficiently removed from Mr. Ghailani’s statements while in CIA custody to be allowed into evidence at this time.