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Judge to rule on tossing detainee conviction

The Associated Press

A judge all but rejected efforts Thursday by lawyers for the first Guantanamo detainee to be tried in a civilian court to toss out his conviction in the deadly 1998 bombing of two U.S. embassies in Africa.

U.S. District Judge Lewis A. Kaplan said he'll rule Friday or Monday on the request. Ahmed Ghailani's lawyers asked that he reject Ghailani's conviction on a single conspiracy count on the ground that it was inconsistent with the jury's decision to acquit him on more than 280 other counts.

The attacks killed 224 people, including 12 Americans.

But the judge repeatedly rejected most of the reasoning offered by defense lawyer Michael Bachrach during oral arguments. "I don't understand you at all," Kaplan said. "I'm just telling you, I hear the notes but I don't get the tune at all." At another point, he asked whether it was possible that "any inconsistency there might be in this verdict, if there is any, is the acquittals, not the conviction."

Kaplan is scheduled to sentence Ghailani on Tuesday for his fall conviction for conspiring to destroy government buildings. Because the jury also found that the bombings resulted in deaths, Ghailani can be sentenced to life in prison.

At Ghailani's trial, his lawyers argued their client did not know that explosives and a truck he bought would be used to attack the embassies.

During Thursday's arguments, Kaplan said he believed it was reasonable for jurors to conclude Ghailani was willingly part of the conspiracy even if they did not agree that prosecutors had proven that he knowingly participated in various facets of the attacks.

The judge noted that trial evidence showed the bombing followed Osama bin Laden's order to kill Americans wherever they were found and that Ghailani lived with an al-Qaida member in the weeks leading up to the bombings.

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