Foreign Law Enforcement Observes Embassy Bombings Trial

Dozens of law enforcement officials and prosecutors from half a world away have visited the embassy bombing trial this year to watch the U.S. justice system at work.

A bench or more is filled each day by these investigators, who have watching the evidence some of them helped gather be introduced at the trial of the four men accused of conspiring to blow up U.S. embassies in Tanzania and Kenya.

The visitors say they are impressed by the prosecution, though they acknowledge being impatient at times with the deliberate nature of the American trial proceedings. Closing arguments are to continue this week as the four-month-long trial comes to a close against the defendants charged in the Aug. 7, 1998 bombings.

If convicted, two of the four men would face the death penalty in a separate penalty phase of the trial.

"Those people are not human beings," said Adadi Rajabu, director of criminal investigations for the United Republic of Tanzania. "We would hang them here. I would love if they would be given the death penalty."

Rajabu, who headed the investigation of the bombings for Tanzania, said he was impressed by the work of prosecutors who he felt must "waste so much time and energy to prove the case to 12 jurors."

"Actually, I couldn't believe it. All those (video) screens, all that evidence, all the preparation. They were wonderful," he said of the prosecutors. Federal prosecutors and defense lawyers have shown most of the evidence on large screens situated in front of jurors.

Alan Fry, head of anti-terrorism for Scotland Yard, called the proceedings "quite civilized."

"It was not contentious. It was very gentlemanly and polite, probably more relaxed and polite than you would find in England," he said.

"We would have been more aggressive with our witnesses, especially in a terrorist trial. It would be very much cut and thrust," Fry added.

The law enforcement visitors are mostly from Kenya and Tanzania, where the embassy bombings killed 224 people, including a dozen Americans, in attacks blamed on Saudi millionaire Osama bin Laden and his followers.

U.S. officials said the investigators came because they played roles in this or earlier terrorist investigations and wanted to use the trial as a learning tool.

Inviting the guests to observe the trial fits outgoing FBI Director Louis Freeh's philosophy that law enforcement worldwide should attack terrorism as a team, sharing each other's skills and ideas.

Freeh, who has crisscrossed the globe in an effort to build the cooperative effort, was in Tanzania just days before he announced he would retire as the head of the FBI on June 15. Rajabu said the Tanzanian investigators and the FBI forged a strong professional bond during the bombing investigation.

"They had confidence in us and we had confidence in them," he said.

Some of those who have attended the trial since it began Jan. 3 have seen their own work on display.

Fry said he was honored to watch some of England's investigators testify. Scotland Yard has played a significant role in the investigation because bin Laden allegedly communicated through a London branch of his organization, Al-Qaeda. Three men charged in the case are being held in London, awaiting extradition to the United States.

"It was a noble experience to be in the federal court in New York and see police officers from London giving evidence in a foreign country," he said.

He envied how U.S. prosecutors work together with FBI agents; court rules in England require separation between the two.

"We don't have the value of attorneys alongside, helping us to prioritize and highlight," he said.

Fry noted how difficult it is to investigate terrorism cases abroad particularly with the different legal standards of evidence recovery and the delay in starting an investigation due to transporting investigators to a foreign country.

"The FBI has done an excellent job in these terrorism cases," Fry said. "They are extremely knowledgeable and thorough, and have the assistance of prosecutors who are extremely committed. That is why you've seen such a thorough case presented at this trial."

From Tanzania, observers have included Police Inspector General Omari Mahata and Chief State Attorney Laurence Kaduri.

From Kenya, those attending the trial have included Attorney General Amos Waco, Police Commissioner Filemon F. Abong'o, Director of Criminal Investigations Francis Sang and Assistant Commissioner of Police Edward Machuri.

Rajabu said he was pleased he was able to watch as Tanzanian witnesses to the bombings testified. He said the witnesses had many fears before they took the stand, "but I think they did wonders."

He added: "We are now anxious for the result of the case."