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Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani, the first former Guantánamo Bay camp detainee to be tried in the civilian court system, was sentenced to life in prison on Tuesday for his role in the 1998 bombings of two United States Embassies in East Africa.
The nearly simultaneous attacks in Nairobi, Kenya, and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, killed 224 people and wounded thousands.
Mr. Ghailani, 36, was convicted on Nov. 17 of a single count of conspiracy to destroy government buildings and property, while being acquitted of more than 280 charges of murder and conspiracy.
But the many acquittals seemed to carry little weight with the judge, Lewis A. Kaplan of United States District Court, who, before imposing the sentence, said that “Mr. Ghailani knew and intended that people would be killed as a result of his own actions and the conspiracy he joined.”
The judge rejected the defense’s request for a lesser sentence, saying, “The very purpose of the crime was to create terror by causing death and destruction.”
But in the end, Mr. Ghailani received the same maximum life sentence, without parole, that he would have faced had he been convicted of all counts; and it seems likely that he will be sent to the so-called Supermax federal prison in Florence, Colo., where other defendants convicted in the same embassy plot are being held.
“The pain is with me every day; often times it is unthinkable,” said Sue Bartley, who lost two family members in the Nairobi bombing: her husband, Julian L. Bartley Sr., who was the consul general; and her son, Julian L. Bartley Jr., a college student working as an intern at the embassy. “That was half of my family.”
More than 30 victims, many from Africa, had written to the judge before sentencing, most asking that he impose a life term. Judge Kaplan read excerpts from some of those letters.
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