US military lawyer slams Guantanamo procedures

[JURIST] Maj. Michael Mori, the US Marine Corps lawyer representing Australian terror suspect David Hicks [JURIST news archive; advocacy website] in military commission proceedings at Guantanamo Bay [JURIST news archive], said Monday that the "imbalanced system" at Guantanamo presents a significant risk that innocent individuals will be convicted while truly guilty suspects are given an avenue to challenge their convictions. Speaking during a discussion [event details] on detainee abuse at Guantanamo hosted by George Washington University Law School, Mori said that a civilized justice system should not accept information "acquired potentially under torture or questionable methods." Mori also criticized the lack of clear rules at the prison camp, saying they change on a daily basis. Although military commission [JURIST news archive] proceedings against Hicks have been stayed [JURIST report] pending the outcome of a US Supreme Court case challenging the constitutionality [JURIST report] of the US military commission process, pre-trial hearings have continued in other cases. Earlier this month, presiding judge Col. Peter Brownback said that he will examine potential evidence [JURIST report] to determine if it was obtained through torture before ruling on its admissibility in the military trial for Ali Hamza al Bahlul [charge sheet, PDF].

Also speaking Monday were former prisoners who were once held at the US prison base in Guantanamo, who told of the abuse they suffered while in detention. The former detainees spoke via video link from their home countries and recounted instances of abuse and forced confessions, including having their beards shaved, being shackled and being forced to listen to blasting music for months at a time. The released prisoners said US soldiers sprayed pepper spray into prisoners' eyes and desecrated the Quran, and one detainee also said he was forced to confess to appearing on a video with Osama bin Laden, even though he was in England at the time the tape was made. In 2004, a group of former detainees released a 115-page report [PDF text; JURIST report] detailing the abuse they suffered while held at Guantanamo, including being subjected to sexual and religious humiliations. Earlier this month, Mohammed al-Qahtani, the so-called "20th hijacker" from the Sept. 11 attacks, repudiated information [JURIST report] he provided about 30 fellow Guantanamo Bay detainees, saying that his statements had been coerced through torture. AP has more.

 

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