Guantanamo ex-prosecutor testifies on political influence in commission cases

[JURIST] Top US Department of Defense officials said that there could be no acquittals at Guantanamo Bay [JURIST news archive] military commissions and pressured prosecutors to bring charges against detainees, according to Monday testimony by former Guantanamo Bay chief military prosecutor Col. Morris Davis [official profile, PDF] at a pre-trial hearing for detainee Salim Ahmed Hamdan [DOD materials; JURIST news archive]. Davis resigned [JURIST report; JURIST op-ed] his position in October 2007, saying that politics were interfering with the prosecutions process. Army Col. Lawrence J. Morris [official profile] cross-examined Davis, who testified that the legal adviser to the Convening Authority [official backgrounder] for Military Commissions at Guantanamo Bay, US Air Force Brig. Gen. Thomas W. Hartmann [official profile], pressured him to move forward with military commissions quickly "before the election" or else "this thing's going to implode."

Davis also testified Monday that he was pressured to prosecute former Guantanamo Bay detainee David Hicks [JURIST news archive] when he would have personally preferred to focus on more serious cases. Davis has previously asserted on numerous occasions that alleged political interference [JURIST report] with the tribunal process implies the entire system may be rigged. Hamdan's hearing is set to continue Tuesday though Davis is not expected to testify further. The New York Times has more. AAP has additional coverage.

Hamdan has been in US custody since 2001 when he was captured in Afghanistan and accused of working as Osama Bin Laden's driver. In 2006 he successfully challenged US President George W. Bush's military commission system when the Supreme Court ruled [opinion, PDF; JURIST report] that the commission system as initially constituted violated US and international law. Hamdan said Monday that he plans to boycott [JURIST report] his trial by military commission.

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