US military commissions prosecutor resigns due to 'ethical qualms'

[JURIST] A US military prosecutor at Guantanamo Bay [JURIST news archive] filed a declaration with the US military commissions [DOD materials; JURIST news archive] Wednesday stating that he is resigning because of ethical concerns. Army Lt. Col. Darrel Vandeveld said potentially exculpatory evidence had been withheld from defense attorneys for Afghan detainee Mohammed Jawad [DOD materials; JURIST news archive], who is accused [JURIST report] of throwing a grenade at US soldiers and an interpreter. As quoted in media reports, Vandeveld wrote in the sworn statement:

My ethical qualms about continuing to serve as a prosecutor relate primarily to the procedures for affording defense counsel discovery. I am highly concerned, to the point that I believe I can no longer serve as a prosecutor at the Commissions, about the slipshod, uncertain "procedure" for affording defense counsel discovery.
Army Col. Lawrence Morris, chief prosecutor for the military commissions, told reporters Vandeveld had "no grounds for ethical qualms." Vandeveld, a reservist, has asked to be returned to civilian status. The Washington Post has more. The Miami Herald has additional coverage.

Vandeveld is the fourth prosecutor known to have left the military commissions at least in part because of ethical concerns. Last year, Air Force Col. Morris Davis [official profile, PDF] requested a transfer [JURIST report] from his position as chief prosecutor, complaining of political interference with the commissions. In 2004, Air Force Maj. Robert Preston and Air Force Capt. John Carr asked for new assignments after telling their supervisors [JURIST report] in e-mail messages that the military tribunals were "a fraud" and "rigged." This month, US Air Force Brig. Gen. Thomas Hartmann [official profile; JURIST news archive] was removed [JURIST report] from his position as legal advisor to the commissions. He had been barred from taking part in certain detainees' trials because of alleged bias toward the prosecution [JURIST report].

 

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