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Judge Blocks Key Witness in Embassy-Bombing
is reporting that a federal judge barred prosecutors from using a
key witness in the trial of a Tanzanian man in the bombing of two U.S.
embassies in Africa because the witness's identity was discovered
through questionable interrogation techniques used in secret CIA
custody. The decision, which delays the trial of Ahmed Khalfan
Ghailani until next week, marks a setback in a case that is seen as a
major test for Obama's plan to try detainees who have been held at
Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, in civil courts rather than before military
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 and injured hundreds more. He has pleaded not
Federal prosecutors want to call Hussein Abebe, another
Tanzanian man, to testify in the case. Prosecutors said they
expected Abebe to tell the court that he sold dynamite that was
ultimately used in the bombing to Ghailani and that he believed Ghailani
planned to use the explosives for mining.
Defense lawyers argued
that prosecutors learned of Abebe's identity as a result of statements
made by Ghailani while he was in the custody of the Central Intelligence
Agency. While in CIA custody, Ghailani was subject to so-called
enhanced interrogation techniques, which his lawyers have said equated
"This case will be tried upon lawful evidence," said
Peter Quijano, Ghailani's lawyer, in a brief statement outside the
courthouse Wednesday. "Not torture. Not coercion."
U.S. District Judge Lewis A. Kaplan, in a brief order Wednesday,
essentially found that prosecutors failed to show that Abebe's potential
testimony was sufficiently removed from Ghailani's statements while in
CIA custody to be allowed into evidence at this time.
"The court has not reached this conclusion
lightly, but the Constitution is the rock upon which our nation
rests. We must follow it not only when it is convenient, but
when fear and danger beckon in a different direction. To do
less would diminish us and undermine the foundation upon which we
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