Tanzania Bomb Probe Challenged
DAR ES SALAAM, Tanzania (AP) _ Attorneys representing two men charged in the 1998 bombing of the U.S. Embassy in Tanzania said Monday they planned to challenge the constitutionality of the investigation involving their clients.
Egyptian Mustapha Mahmoud Said Ahmed and Tanzanian Rashid Saleh Hemed appeared in a magistrate’s court after boycotting the previous two hearings. They have been protesting the lack of progress in the investigation of the Aug. 7, 1998 terrorist bombing that killed 11 people and injured 86 others.
A nearly simultaneous blast at the U.S. Embassy in neighboring Kenya killed 213 people and injured 5,400.
The two men were arrested and charged about a year ago. They have been held without bail and have made more than 20 court appearances.
Preliminary proceedings against the two have been regularly adjourned as prosecutors, citing the lack of forensic reports from the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation, sought more time to complete their investigation. No evidence has been presented in the hearings.
``We want to go to the High Court for reference on validity of these proceedings and as to whether or not constitutional rights have been infringed,″ said Hemed’s attorney, Dr. Fauz Twaib.
The attorneys want the court to review the constitutionality of the FBI’s role in the probe as well as ``questions of adjournments and our clients being confined to prison without any evidence at all being brought to court.″
``We feel that our clients are being denied constitutional rights. The Bill of Rights has been infringed in respect to their right for fair trial and fair investigation.″
Tanzanian law is silent on whether a foreign investigative body can work in the country.
``The High Court will definitely review precedents on the issue from its previous rulings, and if none exists, may resort to precedents from other jurisdiction such as that of the United Kingdom, before deciding on the matter,″ said Ringo Tenga, a lawyer and lecturer at the University of Dar es Salaam’s law faculty.
Mustapha Ahmed and Rashid Hemed have also been indicted in a New York federal district court in connection to the Tanzanian bombing. Fifteen others, including exiled Saudi millionaire Osama bin Laden, have also been indicted by the same court in connection with the Nairobi bombing, but only eight people are in custody.