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NY Terror Case Ruling Likely to Stir Debate Over Use of Civilian Courts

terrorismBy Allan Lengel
For AOL News

A last-minute ruling Wednesday  by a federal judge blocking the government from using a key witness in a major terrorism case is expected to heat up the already contentious debate over whether to use civilian courts in such cases, legal experts say.

“It will certainly fuel the debate,” said former New York federal prosecutor Anthony Barkow, executive director of the Center on the Administration of Criminal Law at the New York University School of Law. “The question is whether a military commission would have reached the same conclusion.”

The debate is likely to center around whether prosecutors are more limited in what they can introduce into evidence in civilian courts as opposed to a military venue, and whether the governments should take such risks.

The three-page written ruling by U.S. District Judge Lewis A. Kaplan came on the day trial was to begin in New York for Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani, who is accused of conspiring in the 1998 bombings of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, which killed 224 people, including a dozen Americans.

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