Gov't Won't Appeal Decision to Ban Witness in Guantanamo Detainee Trial

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani

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

    The government announced the decision in a letter Sunday to U.S. District Judge Lewis A. Kaplan, saying it would be ready to begin the trial against Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani on Tuesday.

    "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.