26 Jan 2011

Former Guantanamo detainee sentenced to life

11:55 am on 26 January 2011

The first former Guantanamo detainee to be tried in a civilian court has been sentenced to life in prison without parole.

Last November, Ahmed Ghailani was found guilty of one charge of conspiracy to destroy buildings, in relation to the 1998 bombings of American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania which killed 224 people.

The jury had cleared him of 284 other conspiracy and murder charges.

The judge declined to grant 36-year-old Tanzanian any leniency despite defence arguments that he was tortured while in US custody and shared valuable information with his CIA interrogators, Reuters reports.

Crucial evidence tainted by such interrogations was withheld from trial and the judge said he disregarded all such evidence when determining the sentence.

Judge Lewis Kaplan said that whatever Mr Ghailani suffered at the hands of the CIA and others in the US government, it paled in comparison to the suffering and the horror he and his confederates caused.

The case in New York City was the first test of President Barack Obama's decision to prosecute in civilian court some of the terrorism suspects held at the US naval base at Guantanamo Bay, in Cuba.

Republican critics say the suspects should be tried in a military tribunal and not brought into the United States.

Some 173 prisoners remain at the detention camp, including the alleged 9/11 mastermind, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.