Lawyer seeks to shift Guantanamo military commission trial to US

[JURIST] A military lawyer representing Yemeni Ali Hamza al-Bahlul, one of ten Guantanamo Bay [JURIST news archive] detainees awaiting trial before a military commission [JURIST news archive], filed a motion Wednesday to move al-Bahlul's trial to a Navy base in the United States, claiming that the Guantanamo restrictions make it impossible to hold a fair trial. Army Major Tom Fleener [Wikipedia profile] complained that the severe restrictions on visitor access to the base - requiring visitors to arrive on military planes or government-approved charter planes - requires a four-day trip to meet with a client for one hour. Media access appears even more difficult because journalists often have their access permission revoked, particularly in the wake of three detainee suicides last weekend [JURIST report]. Fleener added that defense lawyers for some of the other nine detainees awaiting trial plan to file similar change of venue motions with the Office of Military Commissions [official website].

Al-Bahlul, who is alleged [charge sheet, PDF] to have been a bodyguard for Osama bin Laden, refuses to cooperate with Fleener, and boycotted pre-trial proceedings [JURIST report] earlier this year. All ten military trials are currently on hold pending a forthcoming US Supreme Court decision in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld [Duke Law case backgrounder; JURIST report], which will determine the legality of military trials for detainees, though some pre-trial hearings have been conducted while officials wait for the Supreme Court decision. In April, Fleener challenged a Department of Defense procedure allowing only military lawyers with security clearances to view classified documents relating to detainee cases, saying the Pentagon rules are unfair as they effectively prohibit the terror detainees from representing themselves [JURIST report]. AP has more.



 

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