Verdicts in bombings of embassies justified

-- The New York Times - May 30

Posted: Thursday, May 31, 2001

Diplomatic sensitivities and legal barriers make it difficult for the American government to prosecute terrorist attacks against United States citizens and installations abroad. But when such cases can be brought to trial fairly, and the evidence of guilt is compelling, the result can be a measure of justice for horrifying crimes. (Tuesday's) convictions of four men accused of assisting or carrying out the 1998 bombing of two American embassies in East Africa met that test. The case presented by prosecutors was convincing and the verdicts were fully justified.

... Terrorism trials, especially those with foreign-born defendants, place a special burden on prosecutors and the court to ensure that the rights of the defendants in a criminal case are protected. Those rights were protected in this case. As the trial opened we expressed concern about Judge Leonard Sand's oral ruling that confessions made by three of the defendants while in custody in Africa were admissible even though the three were not offered lawyers at the time they were questioned. But we were reassured by a later written decision by the judge, who ruled that foreign suspects interrogated abroad by American officials are entitled to the same right against self-incrimination as suspects in the United States. Judge Sand found that in the embassy bombing case, the three defendants in question had been adequately advised of their rights by American investigators.

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