First Gitmo inmate in US court
pleads not guilty
By TOM HAYS and DEVLIN BARRETT
(Associated Press Writers Tom Hays And Devlin Barrett, Associated Press Writers)
NEW YORK – Under heavy guard, a Guantanamo Bay detainee walked into a civilian U.S. courtroom for the first time Tuesday, underscoring the Obama administration's determination to close the Cuban prison and hold trials here despite Republican alarms about bringing terror suspects to America.
Ahmed Ghailani, a Tanzanian accused in two American Embassy bombings a decade ago, pleaded not guilty — in English — in a brief but historic federal court hearing that transported him from open-ended military detention to the civilian criminal justice system.
President Barack Obama has said keeping Ghailani from coming to the United States "would prevent his trial and conviction." Taking a drastically different stance, House Republican leader John Boehner of Ohio labeled Tuesday's move "the first step in the Democrats' plan to import terrorists into America."
Ghailani, accused of being a bomb-maker, document forger and aide to Osama bin Laden, was brought to New York to await trial in connection with al-Qaida bombings that killed 224 people — including 12 Americans — at the U.S. embassies in Tanzania and Kenya in 1998.
U.S. marshals took custody of Ghailani from his military jailers and transferred him to a federal lockup in lower Manhattan that currently holds financial swindler Bernard Madoff, and once held mob scion John "Junior" Gotti and blind terror leader Sheik Omar Abdel-Rahman