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Rediff.com  » News » US defends civil trial for Osama bin Laden's son-in-law

US defends civil trial for Osama bin Laden's son-in-law

Last updated on: March 09, 2013 10:17 IST

The Obama administration has defended its decision to go in for trial of Sulaiman Abu Ghaith, the son-in-law of Osama bin Laden and a former spokesman for Al Qaeda, in a civil court in New York instead of those in GuantanamoBay.

The White House Deputy Press Secretary, Josh Earnest, told reporters on Friday that there is a broad consensus among various wings of the administration that this is the best way to handle the case of Ghaith, who was arrested and brought to the US on Thursday.

He was produced before a New York court on Friday wherein he pleaded not guilty. He is charged with participating in Al Qaeda conspiracies to kill Americans, which carries a maximum term of life in prison.

"There is broad consensus across the US government at the department of defence, the department of justice, the department of homeland security. The intelligence community agrees that the best way to protect our national security interests is to prosecute Abu Ghaith in an Article III court," he said.

"There is a pretty good strong track record of the success of Article III courts in handling these kinds of trials. Faisal Shahzad, the Times Square bomber, was tried in an Article III court. He's currently serving a life sentence. Abdulmutallab, also known as the underwear bomber faces a similar fate," Earnest said.

"It is the Article III courts which have shown that they are in many ways more efficient to deal with those who seek to harm the United States of America. And that it is the consensus view of the president's national security team and of agencies all across the federal government that this is the best way to handle bringing Abu Ghaith to justice," the White House spokesman said.

Noting that these kinds of cases will be handled on a case-by-case basis, he said as Obama has articulated himself many times, it's his view that whenever the US can use  Article III courts to get justice, they will do so.

"They have proved to be a very useful tool in getting that justice. And that's why and how the decision was made in this case," he said.

Human rights organisations welcomed such a decision of the Obama Administration. "Some people may feel on a gut level that terrorism suspects should be treated differently somehow, but it's long been clear that federal courts are the best and fairest places to try them," said Laura Pitter, counter-terrorism adviser at Human Rights Watch.

The military commissions in Guantanamo have been proven unable to deliver real justice, he said

Lalit K Jha in Washington
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