NEW YORK - The first Guantanamo detainee tried before a court of law, Ahmed Ghailani was sentenced Tuesday to life imprisonment without possible release for his role in two bombings in Africa in 1998, much to the relief of the Obama Administration that it was a test.
The Tanzanian aged 36 years had been acquitted in November of 285 of the 286 counts against him. He had been convicted of single count of "conspiracy to destroy U.S. property."
But the federal judge in New York, Lewis Kaplan, said Tuesday that "Mr. Ghailani knew and intentionally acted with intent to cause death." "This is justice today, not only for Mr. Ghailani but for the victims of his crimes," he added.
The simultaneous attacks against U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998 had 224 people including 12 Americans.
"The sentence today once again demonstrates the effectiveness of the American judicial system in cases of terrorism," the minister responded immediately U.S. Attorney Eric Holder, in reference to the choice of the Obama administration to try Mr. Ghailani federal court in New York and not a special military tribunal at Guantanamo.
The Republican opposition refuses to see the Guantanamo detainees tried on American soil and has blocked any transfer after Mr. Ghailani in New York in June 2009. The closure of Guantanamo ordered by Barack Obama January 22, 2010 has been postponed indefinitely.
The Obama administration in particular had to give up a year ago to try the five men accused of organizing the Sept. 11 before an ordinary court in Manhattan, before the opposition of local politicians, including Democrats.
The conviction of Mr. Ghailani to the maximum sentence he faced thus arrives as a relief for the administration after the surprise of almost complete acquittal.
"Hundreds of people have been convicted by federal courts for acts of terrorism since September 11, 2001," insisted Mr. Holder a statement, adding that the administration would "use all tools at its disposal" to continue to obtain convictions for terrorism.
In the immediate future since the arrival of Barack Obama to the White House, only two other Guantanamo detainees have been tried before a special military tribunal.
Last week, Judge Kaplan rejected a request by lawyers for Ahmed Ghailani to pronounce his full acquittal or organize a new trial because the Crown's theory collapsed with the verdict.
On Tuesday, he again rejected the plea for mercy from defense lawyers, partly because their client has been advanced interrogation sessions between his arrest in 2004 and reappeared at Guantanamo in September 2006.
These interrogations in secret CIA prisons have now been officially equated with torture.
"For every hour of pain and suffering," he endured, "he caused a thousand times more pain and suffering," said the judge had nevertheless caused a dramatic opening of the trial October declaring inadmissible the testimony of a prosecution witness because the U.S. authorities had been aware of its existence during a torture session.