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U.S. Terror Trial Postponed After Witness Barred

A courtroom drawing shows Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani during his arraignment in New York in June.
The first civilian trial of a former detainee of the U.S. prison in Guantanamo Bay was delayed today in New York, after the judge ruled that the government cannot call a key witness.

Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani, a Tanzanian, is accused of a key role in the killing of 224 people during the bombings against the U.S. embassies in Tanzania and Kenya in 1998.

The New York judge ruled that the man officials say sold explosives to him cannot be a witness because his "testimony would be the product of statements made by Ghailani to the CIA under duress."

Defense attorney Peter Quijano praised the ruling outside the courthouse, saying the judge ruled "that the constitution is the rock upon which our nation rests."

"This case will be tried upon lawful evidence, not torture, not coercion," he added.

Ghailani, who was arrested in Pakistan in 2004, faces life in prison if convicted.

While other Guantanamo inmates have been tried by military commissions, he is the sole inmate of Guantanamo to be tried in the civilian courts.

compiled from agency reports