Khalid al-Fawwaz, an alleged former associate of Osama bin Laden, can’t be tried separately from co-defendant Adel Abdel Bary for conspiring in two embassy bombings that killed 224 people, a Manhattan federal judge ruled.
Both men are charged with conspiring with bin Laden to carry out the near-simultaneous attacks on the U.S. embassies in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, and Nairobi, Kenya, on Aug. 7, 1998. Among the dead were 12 U.S. citizens. More than 4,500 people were injured in the blasts.
Al-Fawwaz, who was based in London at the time of the attacks, argued that a joint trial would unfairly prejudice him because Abdel Bary faces charges he doesn’t, including 224 counts of murder. Al-Fawwaz’s lawyer, Bobbi Sternheim, has said she intends to present a defense that would be “intensely antagonistic” to Abdel Bary. U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan today rejected their arguments.
“All of the defendants -- including those only charged with various conspiracies -- are therefore ‘bombing’ defendants and evidence about the bombing is relevant to the government’s case,” Kaplan said in his ruling.
Sternheim didn’t return an e-mail sent to her office after business hours seeking comment on the decision.
Both men were arrested in London and fought extradition to the U.S. for more than a dozen years. They were brought to stand trial in New York in October.
Prosecutors allege that al-Fawwaz was bin Laden’s London-based contact and helped establish a media office to publicize the group. He got a satellite phone for bin Laden, which he and other al-Qaeda leaders used before the 1998 attacks, according to the government.
Al-Fawwaz is charged with four conspiracies, including a plot to kill U.S. nationals. Each count carries a life sentence.
The U.S. alleges that Abdel Bary got fake travel documents for co-conspirators and led the London cell of Egyptian Islamic Jihad, a group tied to bin Laden that provided logistical assistance.
Five other people have been convicted at separate trials in 2001 and 2010 in New York on charges tied to the embassy attacks and sentenced to life in prison.
The case is U.S. v. Ghailani, 98-cr-01023, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).
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