NEW YORK – A Guantanamo Bay detainee brought to the United States for trial on charges he helped the bombing of two U.S. embassies in Africa while he was an aide to Osama bin Laden cannot use allegations of torture by the CIA to dismiss the indictment, a judge said Monday.
U.S. District Judge Lewis A. Kaplan made the ruling in Manhattan after months of consideration of documents, much of their contents redacted, that were submitted by attorneys for Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani and the government.
Kaplan said that Ghailani might be able to sue the government for civil damages or seek criminal prosecution of those who abused him if he can prove his rights were violated by torture, but that he cannot eliminate an indictment charging him in the August 1998 bombings of two U.S. embassies.
The ruling by Kaplan could set a precedent if other Guantanamo detainees are brought to the United States for trials in the civilian court system. Some of them also allege they were tortured. The judge said there were precedents set by other court cases for his findings.
He said a defendant would have to prove the government could win a conviction only by using information gained through torture for him to win dismissal of the indictment.
The judge noted that 224 people, including 12 Americans, died in the attacks on the embassies in Tanzania and Kenya in August 1998. Already, four others are serving life sentences after a 2001 U.S. trial.
Ghailani was interrogated at a secret CIA-run camp abroad after his July 2004 arrest. He was later sent to Guantanamo Bay. Last June, he became the first detainee to be brought to the United States for trial in a civilian court.
Steve Zissou, a lawyer for Ghailani, declined to comment.
Ghailani was accused by the government of being a bomb maker, document forger and aide to Osama bin Laden, who is also charged in the indictment. Ghailani has pleaded not guilty and has denied knowing that the TNT and oxygen tanks he delivered would be used to make a bomb.
Ghailani's lawyers have said he was subjected after his arrest to enhanced interrogation for 14 hours over five days. The CIA as part of its enhanced interrogation program after the Sept. 11 terrorism attacks at one time used 10 harsh methods, including waterboarding, a form of simulated drowning.