Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani, who was detained in Guatanamo Bay for his alleged bombing of the U.S. embassies in Africa and then moved to NYC for a civilian trial, was found not guilty on 284 terror-related charges and guilty of just one. The New York Law Journal reports, "Clearing the Tanzanian native of four conspiracies and the murder of 224 people in the near-simultaneous bombings of the embassies in Kenya and Tanzania on Aug. 7, 1998, the jury in Judge Lewis A. Kaplan's courtroom shocked prosecutors and defense lawyers alike with its verdict."
The one count that jurors did find the 36-year-old guilty of was "conspiracy to destroy buildings and property of the United States by means of an explosive," and the jury said that they did find Ghailani's conduct "directly or proximately caused death to a person other than a co-conspirator." The government's case lost its legs when Judge Kaplan ruled against the use of major prosecution witness, who claimed he sold Ghailani the TNT. The government found out about the witness during the CIA's interrogation of Ghailani; Ghailani's lawyers claimed that he was tortured at the time.
Ghailani's lawyers also argued their client was duped into the terrorist conspiracy, and after the verdict, Peter Quijano said, "This verdict is a reaffirmation that this nation’s judicial system is the greatest ever devised. It is truly a system of laws and not men, where, in the shadow of the World Trade Center, this jury acquitted Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani of 284 out of 285 counts." His lawyers (one of whom is named Steve Zissou) are also planning to appeal the lone guilty verdict.
The Justice Department said, "We respect the jury's verdict and are pleased that Ahmed Ghailani now faces a minimum of 20 years in prison and a potential life sentence." Still, as the NY Times reports, "The case has been seen as a test of President Obama’s goal of trying detainees in federal court whenever feasible, and the result seems certain to fuel debate over whether civilian courts are appropriate for trying terrorists," and the Post calls this a "stunning setback" for the Obama Administration.