Tuesday, September 26, 2023
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Ghailani Jury Asks to See Key Evidence

MANHATTAN (CN) - In its first two days of deliberations, the jury requested key pieces of evidence in the case of Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani, the first Guantanamo detainee to be tried in a civilian court. U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan instructed jurors Wednesday, and the jury immediately started requesting some of the most contested evidence and testimony of the trial.

Ghailani is accused of planning and helping to execute the bombings of U.S. Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania on Aug. 7, 1998. The blasts killed more than 200 people.

On Wednesday, jurors requested the testimony of three witnesses, including Sleyyum Juma, who said that Ghailani bought the truck used in the bombings.

The defense attacked the witness's credibility, suggesting that he gave inconsistent testimony to the FBI when he was interrogated 12 years ago.

Despite the Veteran's Day holiday, deliberations continued Thursday, and jurors requested evidence on the FBI's findings in the investigation of an Amani Street compound in Dar es Salaam, and transcripts from the testimony of its lead investigator, Gerald Bamel.

Bamel testified that his team found incriminating evidence throughout the building that linked Ghailani to the bombings, including a fingerprint, chemical residue, and a detonator in a locked armoire.

During summations, defense attorney Peter Quijano said that Bamel botched the search, bringing in a "wrecking crew" that could demonstrate to students at the FBI Academy in Quantico "how not to conduct a search." The house was left unsecured, agents did not wear Tyvek suits, and clothes were bagged together before being sent for chemical residue testing, "with a total disregard to cross-contamination," Quijano said.

Quijano asked that the judge provide jurors with a stipulation showing that while the house and armoire were left open and unsecured, a truck belonging to Rashid Saleh Hamed - who Quijano said forged Ghailani's passport and phone records - was found parked at the compound.

Judge Kaplan denied that request because the stipulation did not explicitly mention the FBI, only the Tanzanian National Police, who accompanied the U.S. federal agents in the Amani Street search.

"We're not going to invite them to a portion of the defense's argument that is not responsive to their question," Kaplan said.

While charging the jurors, Kaplan mentioned that they may have to stay late during week two, but he added, "I'm offering no comment about how quickly or how much time you should take in any way, one way or the other, in coming to a verdict."

On Thursday, he confirmed that they will be staying later next week.

As jurors do not meet on Fridays, deliberations will continue Monday.

Ghailani faces 286 counts, including murder and conspiracy. Judge Kaplan has pointed out that even if he is cleared of all them, he could still be locked up indefinitely as an illegal combatant.

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