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Embassy Bombings Juror Who Feels Attacked Must Stay, Judge Says

Ghailani Juror Feels ‘Attacked,’ Told to Stay on Case
A jury deliberating the case of Ahmed Ghailani, accused of bombing two U.S. embassies in Africa in 1998, went home for the day without reaching a verdict after one juror said she was being “attacked” for her views. Photographer: Don Emmert/AFP/Getty Images

A terrorism trial juror who said she was being “attacked” for her views by other members of the jury was told to continue deliberating with the panel in the case over the 1998 bombings of two U.S. embassies in Africa.

U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan in Manhattan told the six men and six women on the jury yesterday to continue deliberating after a female juror sent him a note saying she had come to a “conclusion” the others disagreed with her. The jury began its deliberations in the case of Ahmed Ghailani on. Nov. 10.

Kaplan rejected requests from Ghailani’s lawyers to declare a mistrial or to order the jury to begin its deliberations anew, saying it was “way premature.” Kaplan said the jury had deliberated just 1 1/2 days when the woman sent him the note. Testimony began Oct. 12.

“The trial record has now reached 2,200 pages, there are hundreds if not thousands of exhibits,” he told the attorneys outside the jury’s presence. “To expect unanimity in that short span of time, given the record, is unrealistic.”

Ghailani, 36, the first Guantanamo Bay detainee to be tried in a U.S. civilian court, is charged with taking part in a terrorist conspiracy with Osama bin Laden to kill U.S. nationals in the Aug. 7, 1998, bombings of embassies in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, and Nairobi, Kenya, which killed 224 people, including 12 U.S. citizens. He faces mandatory life in prison if convicted of the murders.

Jury Instructions

Kaplan rejected a request by lawyers from both sides to give further instructions to the jury on how to deliberate.

“It’s possibly quite significant that six hours have elapsed since last go-around without a peep from this jury,” Kaplan said. He later dismissed the jury for the evening.

Juror No. 12 on the panel, a 53-year-old woman from the Bronx, sent the note to Kaplan asking to be removed from the case. The panel is anonymous and partially sequestered, kept apart from other juries in the building, and driven to and from the Lower Manhattan courthouse by U.S. Marshal under Kaplan’s orders.

“Your honor Judge Kaplan, at this point am secure and I have come to my conclusion but it doesn’t agreed with the rest of the juror,” Kaplan said, reading the note in open court before the jury entered the courtroom. “My conclusion it not going to change. I feel I am been attacked for my conclusion therefore am asking you if there is any way I can be excuse or exchange for an alternate juror.”

Steve Zissou, one of Ghailani’s lawyers, asked Kaplan to look into the juror’s complaint.

‘Simply Inappropriate’

“She says she’s being attacked for her views and that’s simply inappropriate,” he said. “Something must be done for a juror who says she’s being ‘attacked.’”

Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Farbiarz said prosecutors want to know if the juror is refusing to deliberate, which may be grounds for removing her from the panel.

“She has said, in essence, ‘I don’t want to be part of this process,’” Farbiarz said. “Given what is at stake here, the government is troubled by this.”

Kaplan said he wouldn’t conduct any inquiry into the jury’s deliberations at this point.

“Apart from the fact that there is no way that this lady agrees with the others, there is no way to suggest that anyone has been hit, yelled at, threatened or anything like that, other than the word ‘attacked,’” he said. “I would suggest that members of the Supreme Court attack each other all the time.”

‘Duped’ Like Others

The U.S. says Ghailani helped buy the truck and metal tanks used in the Tanzanian attack. One of his lawyers, Peter Quijano, said Ghailani wasn’t aware of the bombing plot and said the purchases were “commercial transactions” by someone who was “duped like the others, used by his friends.”

Ghailani left Africa a day before the attacks on a flight to Karachi, Pakistan, with two senior al-Qaeda leaders, the U.S. said. He was captured in Pakistan in July 2004. He was then held by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, the U.S. said in court papers.

In September 2006, he was transferred to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The jury has heard only about the date and location of his arrest and not about his detention at Guantanamo. He was transferred to New York last year for trial after the Obama administration said it would try some of the Guantanamo detainees in U.S. civilian courts.

The case is U.S. v. Ghailani, 98-cr-01023, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).

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