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Key witness in African embassy bombing has pure motive -- like clearing his name

Discussion in 'International Forum' started by Kiranga, Sep 16, 2010.

  1. Kiranga

    Kiranga JF-Expert Member

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    Key witness in African embassy bombing has pure motive -- like clearing his name

    BY SCOTT SHIFREL
    DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER

    Thursday, September 16th 2010, 4:00 AM

    Read more: Key witness in African embassy bombing has pure motive -- like clearing his name

    He's the key witness in the government's case to convict an accused terrorist in an embassy bombing in Africa - but all he's worried about is clearing his own name.

    "A lot of people know I was involved by selling those explosives," Hussain Abebe said in an unusual pretrial hearing. "I'm coming to clean myself. I'm a clean person and that's why I come to testify."

    Prosecutors say Abebe will be "a giant witness" at suspect Ahmed Ghailani's upcoming terror trial in the 1998 bombing of the U.S. Embassy in Tanzania.

    Defense lawyers say Abebe's testimony should be excluded because the government found out about him after illegally questioning and torturing Ghailani.

    Ghailani is the first of the Guantanamo Bay detainees to face a civil jury trial, and his case is a crucial test for the government to show that defendants like Ghailani - and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the self-proclaimed mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks - can be tried without a military tribunal.

    For Abebe to testify, however, prosecutors must first show that his testimony is not coerced, and that he knew nothing of any of the statements Ghailani made about him while being interrogated at Guantanamo or any of the at secret CIA "black sites" where he spent time before being shipped to Cuba.

    Abebe, a former miner from northern Tanzania, spent hours testifying in Swahili through an interpreter before federal Judge Lewis Kaplan, who must decide if he will testify at Ghailani's trial.

    He spent much of it trying to show that he was under no duress to testify about the man charged with helping to kill hundreds in the 1998 attack.

    "I sold him explosives to use for mining like I do, [and] he went to use it for destruction," Abebe said.

    "I sold for him to do work, but then he made to kill people. For myself, I do not want to slaughter a chicken."

    "Do you want to testify?" Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Farbiarz asked.

    "Yes ... because I want to take the anger that's inside my heart," Abebe said.

    sshifrel@nydailynews.com



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