Possible hung jury in Guantanamo bombing case

NEW YORK, N.Y.—Deliberations at the first civilian trial of a Guantanamo detainee hit a snag on Monday when a juror told the judge she felt threatened by other jurors and asked him to be removed from the panel.

The note raised the spectre of a hung jury because the juror said she was at odds with the rest of the anonymous panel as they try to settle on a verdict on terror charges against Ahmed Ghailani in federal court in Manhattan.

“My conclusion is not going to change,” she wrote without indicating her position. “I feel (I am being) attacked for my conclusion.”

U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan responded by calling all the jurors into the courtroom, reminding them of his instructions on the law and telling them to continue deliberations, which began Wednesday.

He later shot down a defence motion arguing that the apparent discord in the jury room was grounds for a mistrial.

“Let’s just see what happens,” Kaplan said. “Time is a great thing.”

Prosecutors allege Ghailani helped an Al Qaeda cell buy a truck and components for explosives used in a suicide bombing in his native Tanzania on Aug. 7, 1998. The attack in Dar es Salaam and a nearly simultaneous bombing in Nairobi, Kenya, killed 224 people, including 12 Americans.

The day before the bombings, Ghailani fled by boarding a one-way flight to Pakistan under an alias, prosecutors said. While on the run, he spent time in Afghanistan as a cook and bodyguard for Osama bin Laden and later as a document forger for Al Qaeda, authorities said.

He was captured in 2004 in Pakistan and held by the CIA at a secret overseas camp. In 2006, he was transferred to Guantanamo and held until the decision last year to bring him to New York.

The defence has argued that the 36-year-old defendant was a “dupe” who was in the dark about the plot.

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