A Pentagon appointee Friday spurned a prosecutor's request for a death penalty trial in approving war crimes charges against a former CIA-held captive at Guantanamo accused of a role in al Qaeda's 1998 East Africa embassies bombings.
Ahmed Ghailani, in his 30s, can go to trial on nine war crime charges -- including terrorism, conspiracy and murder of protected persons, according to the charge sheet signed by Susan J. Crawford, the Defense Department's Convening Authority for Military Commissions.
But the charge sheet made public the same day Crawford signed off on it made life in prison the maximum penalty for conviction -- not military execution.
A Defense Department announcement did not explain why Crawford changed the charge sheet beyond saying she was ''exercising her independent judgment'' and her "sole discretion.''
Ghailani's 15-page charge sheet alleges the 5-foot-4 Zanzibar native traveled between Kenya, and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, in the summer of the 1998, met with suicide bombers and engineers and helped acquire a truck bomb before the blasts that killed 11 people on Aug. 7, 1998, in Tanzania.
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