Monday, March 31, 2008
The Defense Department announced today that charges have been sworn against Guantanamo Bay detainee Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani of Zanzibar, Tanzania. He is the fifteenth detainee against whom charges have been sworn under the Military Commissions Act.
The charges allege that he participated in the planning and preparation of the attack on the U. S. Embassy in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, on Aug. 7, 1998. The attack killed 11 people and injured hundreds. It is alleged that Ghailani was involved in the following actions, among other things:
* Purchasing TNT, detonators and detonation cord on multiple occasions and transporting the bomb components to Dar es Salaam;
* Moving the bomb components to various safe houses in and around Dar es Salaam;
* Assisting in the purchase of the truck used in the attack;
* Facilitating the purchase of oxygen cylinder tanks which were used as bomb components;
* Escorting the bomb engineer between Dar es Salaam and Mombasa, Kenya after the bomb had been assembled;
* Scouting the American Embassy with the suicide bomb driver;
* Meeting with co-conspirators in Nairobi, Kenya, shortly before the bombing;
* Joining the co-conspirators on a flight from Nairobi to Karachi, Pakistan, one day prior to the bombing.
Based on these allegations and others outlined in the charge sheet, Ghailani is charged with the following substantive offenses: murder in violation of the Law of War, murder of protected persons, attacking civilians, attacking civilian objects, intentionally causing serious bodily injury, destruction of property in violation of the Law of War and terrorism. In addition, he is charged with conspiracy to commit all of the above offenses.
Ghailani is further charged with providing material support to terrorism. This charge alleges that after the bombing, Ghailani continued in his service to al Qaeda as a document forger, physical trainer at an al Qaeda training camp, and as a bodyguard for Usama bin Laden.
In accordance with the Military Commissions Act of 2006, these sworn charges will be forwarded to the convening authority, Susan J. Crawford. She will then make an independent determination as to whether to refer some, all, or none of the charges to trial by military commission. If the convening authority decides to refer the case to trial, she will designate commission panel members (jurors). The chief trial judge of the Military Commissions Trial Judiciary will detail a military judge to the case.
The chief prosecutor has recommended the charges against Ghailani be referred as capital. If the convening authority, in her sole discretion, decides to refer the case as capital, the accused may face the possibility of being sentenced to death.
The military commissions provide the following protections for the accused: to elect not to testify at trial and to have no adverse inference drawn from it; to be represented by detailed military counsel, as well as civilian counsel of his own selection and at no expense to the government; to examine all evidence presented to a jury by the prosecution; to obtain evidence and to call witnesses on his own behalf including expert witnesses; to confront and cross-examine every witness called by the prosecution; to be present during the presentation of evidence; to have no statements obtained by torture admitted; to have a military commission panel (jury) of at least five military members (12 in a capital case) determine guilt or innocence by a two-thirds majority, or in the case of a capital offense, 12 members must unanimously decide to impose a sentence of death; and the right to an appeal to the Court of Military Commission Review, then through the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit to the U. S. Supreme Court.
The charges are only allegations that the accused has committed offenses under the Military Commissions Act, and the accused remains innocent unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.