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While four others were prosecuted in federal court a decade ago, convicted and sentenced to life in prison in connection with the 1998 embassy bombings, Ghailani’s case was far different and showed the constitutional challenges likely present in potential prosecutions of other Guantanamo detainees.

Unlike his four cohorts, Ghailani wasn’t captured until 2004. Before his arrest, prosecutors said, Ghailani spent time in Afghanistan as a cook and bodyguard for Osama bin Laden and later as a document forger for al Qaeda.

Authorities captured him in Pakistan and held him in a secret overseas CIA prison where his attorneys say he was tortured. Ghailani was taken to Guantanamo in 2006.

On the eve of trial, Judge Kaplan barred the government from calling a key witness because the witness had been identified while Ghailani was being held at a secret CIA prison where harsh interrogation techniques were used. After briefly considering an appeal, prosecutors forged ahead with the case.

Evidence at trial showed that Ghailani helped purchase bomb components before the attacks, including 15 gas tanks designed to enhance the power of the bombs, along with one of the bomb vehicles. Ghailani’s attorneys argued that he was duped by friends into participating in the attack and was upset when he saw the damage.

Ghailani asked Judge Kaplan for leniency because of his treatment at the hands of the CIA, but the judge rejected the plea, saying whatever Ghailani suffered at the hands of the CIA and others “pales in comparison to the suffering and the horror he and his confederates caused.”

A group of tearful survivors of the attacks and family members of those who died spoke at the sentencing. They included Sue Bartley, a Washington-area resident who lost her husband, Julian Leotis Bartley Sr., then U.S. consul general to Kenya, and her son, Julian “Jay” Bartley Jr.

Mrs. Bartley said the attacks were still fresh in her mind and “excruciatingly painful. What remains is a lingering, unsettling feeling that is compounded by grief, deep sadness and anger. The pain is with me every day. Oftentimes, it is unthinkable.”

Justina L. Mdobilu said she was the only Tanzanian victim to attend the sentencing and believed others stayed away because it was too painful.

“Nobody wants to come. People are upset. People are going through post-traumatic syndrome,” she said.

James Ndeda of Nairobi, Kenya, asked Judge Kaplan to order Ghailani to prison for a year for each of the victims.

“Ghailani and his accomplices shattered our lives,” said Mr. Ndeda, who suffered a skull fracture as well as eye and back problems that continue 12 years later.

This article is based in part on wire service reports.