A federal judge barred prosecutors on Wednesday from using a witness in the first trial of a former detainee of Guantanamo Bay, sources told a New York Criminal Lawyer. The decision has sparked further debate in the issue over whether terrorist detainees should be prosecuted in civilian court.
The trial of the alleged terrorist, charged with participating in the 1998 bombings of United States Embassies in East Africa, is seen by many as a test the Obama Administration’s determination to move other detainees to federal court and shut down Guantanamo.
The judge in charge of the case, from the United States District Court in Manhattan, has denied requests from the defense to dismiss the case because the defendant’s right to a speedy trial has been violated and due to accusations of torture.
As the trial was about to begin, the judge said he would not allow the witness to testify. He told New York Criminal Lawyers the government had already confirmed it had identified and located the witness by interrogating the defendant while he was in a secret overseas prison run by the Central Intelligence Agency.
The judge told a New York Criminal Lawyer that he was “acutely aware of the perilous nature of the world in which we live.” He continued on to say, “But the Constitution is the rock upon which our nation rests. We must follow it not only when it is convenient, but when fear and danger beckon in a different direction. To do less would diminish us and undermine the foundation upon which we stand.”
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