In blow to Obama, Guantanamo detainee trial delayed

  • World
  • Thursday, 07 Oct 2010

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A U.S. judge refused on Wednesday to let a key witness testify in the first criminal trial of a terrorism suspect from the Guantanamo Bay military prison, a setback for the Obama administration's effort to prosecute such cases.

The trial of Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani at Manhattan federal court was delayed until next Tuesday to give prosecutors time to review the ruling and decide on an appeal.

Ghailani, 36, is a Tanzanian charged with conspiring with Islamic militants to bomb the U.S. embassies in Tanzania and Kenya in 1998, in which 224 people were killed. He faces life in prison if convicted.

Ghailani's trial is being watched closely as a test of President Barack Obama's approach to handling the 174 suspected terrorists held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, including Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, accused mastermind of the Sept. 11 attacks.

Obama's administration has adopted what it calls a flexible approach, favouring military tribunals in some cases and civilian trials in others. Most Republicans say all terrorism suspects should be tried in military tribunals.

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder defended the option to use civilian criminal courts.

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