First Civilian Trial of Guantanamo Detainee to Begin Today

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani

    Opening statements could begin as early as Tuesday at the first civilian trial for a Guantanamo Bay detainee.

    The final stage of jury selection in Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani's trial in New York City is expected to be completed Tuesday before opening statements begin.

    Ghailani is charged in the 1998 bombings of two U.S. embassies in Africa. The attacks killed 224 people, including a dozen Americans.

    Ghailani has been accused of helping build bombs. He has pleaded not guilty and denied knowing that explosives he delivered would be used in the attacks.

    Four others convicted in 2001 in the attacks are serving life prison terms.

    Some say the trial could renew chances Khalid Sheik Mohammed could be tried in Manhattan for the Sept. 11 attacks.

    The U.S. government decided not to appeal a judge's decision to ban a key prosecution witness from testifying at the trial, saying it would cause a delay.

    The government announced the decision in a letter Sunday to U.S. District Judge Lewis A. Kaplan.

    "Weighing all of the circumstances, the government does no wish to delay the trial in order to take an appeal,'' the letter said.

    Ghailani has been accused by the government of being a bomb maker, document forger and aide to Osama bin Laden. He's charged with conspiring in the 1998 bombings of two U.S. embassies in Africa. The attacks killed 224 people, including a dozen Americans.

    Ghailani has pleaded not guilty and has denied knowing that TNT and oxygen tanks he delivered would be used to make a bomb.

    The judge said last week that the witness could not take the stand in Ghailani's trial because investigators learned of his existence through coercive questioning of Ghailani at a secret CIA-run camp.

    The man who was supposed to be the government's star witness, Hussein Abebe, said he sold to Ghailani explosives that were used in the bombing. But defense lawyers said prosecutors never would have learned about Abebe if Ghailani hadn't divulged his identity while undergoing harsh interrogations at a CIA-run camp in 2004.