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Guantánamo detainee's sentence renews debate about civilian trials

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A key government witness was barred from testifying at the trial that he sold TNT to Ghailani. Kaplan ruled that the testimony must be excluded because the witness’s identity was revealed to the US by Ghailani during coercive interrogation sessions. Defense lawyers said their client was subjected to “torture.”

Proponents of military trials applauded the court’s life sentence for Ghailani, but remained critical of how evidence in the trial was restricted by the civilian court’s judge.

"The punishment fits the crime," Kirk Lippold, a former commander of the USS Cole warship that was attacked by Al Qaeda in 2000, told The Washington Post. "What cannot be forgotten from this trial is that the verdict handed down in November represented a mockery of justice and is further proof that civilian trials for enemy combatants are a foolish and misguided strategy."

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R) of Texas released a statement strongly criticizing the trial’s lack of efficiency in prosecuting Ghailani.

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