Gitmo Detainee Acquitted Of All But 1 Charge
STEVE INSKEEP, Host:
DINA TEMPLE: Hi there.
INSKEEP: So what's it like to sit in a courtroom and be found not guilty more than 280 times?
TEMPLE: And in the end, the jury found Ghailani, as you were saying, guilty of one count of conspiracy to destroy government buildings and property. And it's unclear how, exactly, they found him guilty of that and not guilty of the attack itself. So, on a lot of...
INSKEEP: Oh, because they were very similar charges. They were basically repeated many times, in different ways.
TEMPLE: Exactly. So it was a really surprising verdict.
INSKEEP: And so he still faces time - a couple of decades, possibly - of prison time. And yet, this must have been hair-raising for prosecutors. I can recall, when this case began, Eric Holder, the Attorney General, was asked: what if you lose, what happens then? And he basically said, well, we just have to win. It's an absolute must win.
TEMPLE: And there was even one witness that was supposed to testify that Ghailani had bought a lot of TNT just before the attack, but the judge ended up saying that he wasn't allowed to testify. So this was a case that was full of a lot of reasonable doubt, and prosecutors weren't really able to get over that bar.
INSKEEP: Well how does this ruling, how does this verdict, I should say, affect the effort to get the last inmates out of Guantanamo Bay prison?
TEMPLE: But Republicans, like Congressman Peter King of New York, are saying that this verdict has proven their point: a jury almost didn't convict Ghailani.
INSKEEP: Were people surprised, that the jury that almost didn't convict Ghailani, was a jury in New York City?
TEMPLE: They were very surprised. You know, coming from someone who lives here, you know, there is this supposition that New York juries are going to find terrorism suspects guilty, just because of what happened in the city. And...
INSKEEP: Nine/11, yeah.
TEMPLE: In 9/11. And this Ghailani verdict wasn't an easy one for the jury to come to. I mean, clearly, the jury weighed the evidence against someone prosecutors said, a member of times, was an al-Qaida member, and they just weren't convinced. And the judge told the jurors their verdict says a lot about our justice system. And I think it does.
INSKEEP: Dina, thanks very much.
TEMPLE: You're welcome.
INSKEEP: This is NPR News.
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