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Saturday, July 13, 2024 | Back issues
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Ghailani Trial Offers Inside Look|at Economics of Witness Testimony

MANHATTAN (CN) - In the case against former Guantanamo detainee Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani, an employee of the U.S. Attorney's Office was called to testify that there is nothing improper about paying stipends to witnesses in a federal trial. In fact, the practice and fee amounts have been enshrined by Congress, according to a government witness.

In two other cross-examinations, defense attorney Peter Quijano grilled witnesses about money they received to testify in the Ghailani trial.

Ghailani faces 286 counts, including murder and conspiracy. He is accused of helping to plan and execute truck bombings of U.S. Embassies in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania and Nairobi, Kenya, which killed more than 200 people on Aug. 7, 1998.

Two witnesses testified last week that they received advances of about U.S. $100 for their families in Tanzania. After arriving in America, one said he received about $110 per day; the other reported that he had received $436, after thumbing through his wallet on the witness stand.

Chelsea Mitschely, a victim-witness advocate at the U.S. Attorneys' Office, said that rates for federal witness testimony have been set by Congress at $111 per day: a $40 witness fee and $71 per diem to cover the costs of telephone calls, medicine and other daily expenses.

Witnesses receive these amounts regardless of whether they are testifying for the defense or the prosecution, Mitschely said.

She added that the Marshall's Office budgets for the money, and the U.S. Attorney's Office is responsible for providing airfare, ground transportation and hotel accommodations.

The defense did not cross-examine the witness.

No more witnesses will receive any money in the Ghailani trial, as both sides rested their cases on Wednesday. Trial resumes on Monday with closing arguments.

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