Ghailani's case is seen as a potential template for trying future Guantanamo detainees in civilian courts [AFP]

Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani, 36, is charged with conspiring in the 1998 bombings of US embassies in Tanzania and Kenya that killed 224 people.

His trial in Manhattan federal court started on Tuesday.

He is the first Guantanamo Bay prisoner to be tried in a civilian court rather than a military tribunal.

His case is seen as a potential template for trying future Guantanamo detainees in civilian courts, such as the accused mastermind of the September 11, 2001 attacks, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.

Ghailani is accused of purchasing the explosives and truck used by militants in the embassy bombings.

Four men accused in the embassy case were convicted in October 2001. Ghailani was a fugitive until his July 25, 2004, capture during a gunfight in Pakistan.

He spent more than two years in CIA custody undergoing so-called "enhanced interrogation" at secret prisons. His defense attorneys say he was tortured.

In September 2006, Ghailani was transferred to US Department of Defense custody and taken to the military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Barack Obama, the US president and his administration ordered that Ghailani be taken to New York and he was transferred on June 9, 2009, to stand trial in a civilian court.

Ghailani allegedly told US interrogators he started working for al Qaeda in 1998. He said he was Osama bin Laden's bodyguard and cook. Ghailani said he went into hiding after Afghanistan war started, court documents said.

Ghailani was born in Zanzibar in April 1974. He speaks English and Swahili and has one daughter.

Source: Reuters