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NY judge postpones trial over ’98 embassy bombings

October 22, 2014

NEW YORK (AP) — The trial of two men charged in the 1998 deadly bombings of two U.S. embassies in Africa was postponed Wednesday after defense lawyers said they needed additional time to prepare.

U.S. District Judge Lewis A. Kaplan agreed to push back the November trial to January but warned that the trial date was unlikely to be extended again.

Lawyers for Khaled al-Fawwaz and Abu Anas al-Libi had asked for additional time to gather evidence in the United Kingdom and from computer files.

The attacks in Kenya and Tanzania killed 224 people, including a dozen Americans. Five others convicted at earlier trials are serving life sentences.

Al-Fawwaz and al-Libi have pleaded not guilty to charges linking them to the twin bombings. Al-Fawwaz was brought to New York from England in 2012 while al-Libi was snatched off the streets of Libya last year and brought to the United States for trial.

Al-Libi was described in court papers as having participated in visual and photographic surveillance of the U.S. embassy in Nairobi, Kenya, in late 1993 and researching potential sites for other attacks with members of al-Qaida in 1994.

According to the indictment, Osama bin Laden and al-Fawwaz in 1994 set up a media information office in London that was designed to publicize the statements of bin Laden and to provide a cover for activity in support of al-Qaida’s military activities. Those military activities included the recruitment of trainees, the disbursement of funds and the procurement of necessary equipment, including satellite telephones, it said.

Bin Laden was killed by U.S. forces in Pakistan in May 2011.

Adel Abdul Bary, a third defendant who was scheduled to be tried with al-Fawwaz and al-Libi, pleaded guilty in September and is awaiting sentencing.

A tearful Bary told Kaplan at his plea that he had contacted the media to claim responsibility for the embassy bombings and later put reporters in touch with bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri, who replaced bin Laden as al-Qaida’s leader. Bary faces up to 25 years in prison.

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