BREAKING NEWS ~ Judge stops Guantanamo proceedings as unlawful

Judge James Robertson of the US District Court of the District of Columbia has stopped Guantanamo military commission proceedings against Salim Ahmed Hamdan, Osama bin Laden's bodyguard and driver from 1996 to 2001, on the grounds that they are unlawful as presently constituted (see this previous report in JURIST's Paper Chase). Judge Robertson ruled that Hamdan had not been found by a competent tribunal to be or not to be a prisoner of war, that he was due the full protections of a prisoner of war under the Third Geneva Convention until that time, and that the rules for his trial by commission - in particular with regard to review and to the accused right to be privy to evidence against him - were not in keeping with those for a court-martial due a POW.

This is the first time a federal court has stopped proceedings for a trial before a US military commission; the ruling effectively stops all proceedings against all charged Gitmo detainees, since the Combatant Status Review Tribunals before which they have appeared have been adjudged incompetent for POW status determinations. Judge Robertson wrote:

Salim Ahmed Hamdan petitions for a writ of habeas corpus, challenging the lawfulness of the Secretary of Defense’s plan to try him for alleged war crimes before a military commission convened under special orders issued by the President of the United States, rather than before a court-martial convened under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. The government moves to dismiss. Because Hamdan has not been determined by a competent tribunal to be an offender triable under the law of war, 10 U.S.C. § 821, and because in any event the procedures established for the Military Commission by the President’s order are “contrary to or inconsistent” with those applicable to courts-martial, 10 U.S.C. § 836, Hamdan’s petition will be granted in part. The government’s motion will be denied.
Read the full opinion in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld here [PDF]. The Department of Defense has more on military commissions here. AP has more.

 

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