The Justice Department remains confident it can successfully prosecute accused terrorist Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani despite a federal judge’s ruling today barring prosecutors from using the testimony of a key witness, Attorney General Eric Holder Jr. told reporters today in Washington.
Judge Lewis Kaplan of the federal district court in Manhattan said the government is banned from using the testimony of the witness, Hussein Abebe, who allegedly sold the explosives to Ghailani that he used to blow up the embassy in Dar es Salaam. Kaplan blocked the Abebe's testimony because the government learned about the witness while Ghailani was interrogated overseas in a secret CIA facility.
Holder said today that Justice is reviewing the decision and will decide how to respond to it. He remained confident the government prosecution will end in a conviction. The prosecution of Ghailani marks the first civilian terror trial of a Guantanamo Bay detainee.
“You have to understand something. We are looking at one ruling in one case by one judge that we will look at and decide how we want to react to it,” Holder said. “I think the true test is ultimately how are these cases resolved? Can these cases be brought into Article III courts and can they be successfully resolved from the government’s perspective? History has shown us over 300 times that we can do that—either by pleas or trial.
“We have to deal with this one ruling, and we will, and this matter will proceed,” Holder added. “Article III courts are fully capable of handling these matters. We intend to proceed with this trial.”
Holder reiterated a point he has made often in public remarks, that “courts have shown an ability to handle these kinds of cases over the years. I don’t think there is any reason to doubt that we can successfully do that in the future.”
Holder’s remarks came at a press conference at Main Justice announcing the arrest of 89 law enforcement officers in Puerto Rico on public corruption charges. The officers, among others charged in the case, are accused of participating in drug transactions.
More than 750 federal agents participated in raids this morning in Puerto Rico to arrest the suspects. DOJ officials said the case marks the largest anti-corruption investigation targeting law enforcement officers.
“You had an investigation that lasted over more than two years,” Holder said. “There was not one leak. There was not one disclosure during the course of that investigation.”