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US court urged to dismiss Guantanamo case

US: Lawyers for the first detainee transferred from Guantanamo to civilian trial in the United States urged a court Monday to drop charges because he was tortured and blocked from a speedy trial.

Prosecutors, however, argued that Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani, a Tanzanian accused of involvement in bloody 1998 attacks on US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, could not be quickly tried because of "national security" while he underwent interrogation.

Judge Lewis Kaplan in a New York federal court did not issue an immediate ruling.

In oral arguments before Kaplan, defense attorneys said the authorities broke the law when they held Ghailani five years without trial. He was kept at a secret CIA prison, or "black site," after his capture in 2004, then was taken to the controversial Guantanamo Bay base in Cuba in 2006, and transferred to New York last year.

"For the first two months in the black site..., he literally did not know whether the next morning he'd be taken out and shot," attorney Peter Quijano said.

The treatment "reduced him to a state of helplessness, where he was physically, emotionally and psychologically unable to resist."

Quijano said the government "ignored and was indifferent" to Ghailani's US legal right to a quick trial after indictment.

But prosecutors say that Ghailani underwent "enhanced interrogation" because he knew critical intelligence about Al Qaeda that investigators needed in order to save American lives.

"Concern for national security was much more important" than hurrying to trial, Assistant US Attorney Michael Farbiarz said.

Farbiarz added that Ghailani never demanded a fast trial. "There was a strategic utility to him to waiting and after it was no longer useful he started waving his hands."

The 1998 US embassy attacks killed 224 people and injured more than 5,000. Ghailani, allegedly a former cook and bodyguard to Osama bin Laden, pleaded not guilty to federal conspiracy charges in June in New York.

New York, Tuesday, AFP

 

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