Jury gets embassy bombings case and goes home
NEW YORK (CNN) -- The jury has begun deliberations in the terrorist conspiracy trial of four men stemming from the August 7, 1998, bombings of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.
U.S. District Court Judge Leonard Sand completed his instructions to the panel Thursday afternoon and turned the case over to them around 3:45 p.m.
Sand required close to seven hours over two days to complete his review of the 302-count indictment and the law behind it.
Sticking to the court schedule, the jury of five men and seven women adjourned at 4:30 p.m. and will return Friday for what is likely to be a full day of deliberations. Four remaining alternate jurors remain on call.
Before leaving for the day, the jury requested 19 items to review , mostly documents.
During the past three months, the panel has sat through 40 days of testimony and arguments by attorneys.
It heard from nearly 100 witnesses and saw hundreds of exhibits introduced into evidence -- including documents, photographs, wiretap transcripts and bombing debris. The trial transcript runs more than 6,000 pages.
The jury will be required to fill out a 61-page verdict form as it formulates its decisions for each defendant. Because many of the counts involve more than one defendant, the jury has close to 600 decisions to make.
Mohamed Rashed Daoud al-'Owhali, 24, a Saudi, and Mohamed Sadeek Odeh, 36, a Jordanian, are charged in the Nairobi, Kenya, bombing. They face 213 murder counts, one for each fatality in the blast, plus additional weapons charges.
Khalfan Khamis Mohamed, 27, a Tanzanian, is charged in the Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, bombing. He faces 11 murder counts for the fatalities in that blast, plus additional weapons charges.
Wadih el Hage, 40, a Lebanese-born American, is not charged in either bombing. He is charged in the alleged conspiracy to kill Americans and destroy U.S. government property. All four defendants face those conspiracy charges.
El Hage also faces multiple perjury counts for allegedly lying to a grand jury investigating the activities of Osama bin Laden, the Saudi exile the U.S. government considers the mastermind of the embassy bombings and the broader conspiracy behind them.
All four defendants pleaded not guilty to the charges.
If past terrorism trials are guides, the embassy bombings jury could take about a week to decide the case.
In the 1995 terrorism trial over a failed plot to blow up five New York City landmarks, the jury deliberated seven days before returning guilty verdicts against Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman and nine others.
The trial lasted eight months as evidence was presented about the plot targeting the U.N. General Assembly building, the New York FBI building, the Lincoln Tunnel, the Holland Tunnel and the George Washington Bridge.
In the 1993-94 trial of four men in the World Trade Center bombing, the jury deliberated six days before convicting all the defendants. The trial lasted 5.5 months; more than 200 prosecution witnesses testified about the blast that killed six people and injured more than 1,000.
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