MANHATTAN (CN) – “Our nation is a better place because of you and others like you,” U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan told jurors after they announced their verdict in the trial of Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani, the first Guantanamo detainee to be tried in a civilian court. “You have demonstrated also that American justice can be rendered calmly, deliberately and fairly by ordinary people, people who are not beholden to any government, not even ours.”
Ghailani was acquitted of 284 charges, including murder and conspiracy, in the bombings of two U.S. Embassies in Africa on Aug. 7, 1998. He was convicted of conspiring to destroy U.S. buildings, which carries a mandatory sentence of 20 years to life in prison.
Here are Judge Kaplan’s complete remarks to the jurors:
“Members of the jury, it is my practice never to comment on the substance of a jury’s verdict. I am not going to do so today. It’s your job to find the facts and to determine whether the government has proved its case, not mine. But there are just a couple of things that I do want to say.
“First of all, jury service is a duty that comes along with all of the benefits of citizenship. You all have done your duty. Our nation is a better place because you and others like you do that.
“Second, I and I think everyone else has been particularly struck by the manner in which you did your duty. You obviously paid close attention, you followed the evidence despite the fact that there was a lot of it and that fitting all the pieces together required quite a good deal of concentration and effort. Your requests during deliberations made it absolutely clear that you reviewed the evidence with great care and paid close attention to the law. You deserve a lot of credit for that.
“You have demonstrated also that American justice can be rendered calmly, deliberately and fairly by ordinary people, people who are not beholden to any government, not even ours. It can be rendered with fidelity to the Constitution. You have a right to be proud of your service in this case.”