Algeria court acquits former Guantanamo detainee

[JURIST] An Algerian criminal court on Sunday acquitted former Guantanamo Bay [JURIST news archive] detainee Mustafa Hemlili of charges of counterfeiting and affiliation to a militant group that is active abroad. Hemlili was released from Guantanamo, along with fellow inmate Hederbash Sufian, after a six-year detention period. The court separated the trials [Bernama report] of the two defendants, stating that the only link between them was the date of their release. Sufian's trial was postponed due to poor health after his lawyers presented evidence showing that he suffers from mental trauma as a result of his treatment at the US naval facility. Hemlili had traveled with family members to Mali, Saudi Arabia, and Pakistan without a passport before going to the Afghanistan-Pakistan border region [CFR backgrounder] to work with an international relief agency assisting Afghan refugees. After the 9/11 attacks [JURIST news archive], Hemlili was captured [QNA report] in Peshawar, Pakistan, with a forged Iraqi passport.

Last month, two other Guantanamo Bay detainees were transferred to Algeria [JURIST report], the latest in a string of transfers to the country spanning several years. Both were Algerian nationals, bringing the total number of Algerians released from Guantanamo [KUNA report] to 19. The transfer came amid criticisms from Republican Congress members after a Department of Defense [official website] official stated [JURIST report] that one in five detainees have returned to terrorist activities, according to a classified Pentagon report. Another Guantanamo Bay detainee, Ahmed Belbacha [JURIST news archive], was sentenced [JURIST report] to 20 years in prison for being part of an "overseas terrorist group" by an Algerian court in November. The week prior, the court acquitted [JURIST report] former detainees Abdulli Feghoul and Terari Mohamed. Feghoul and Mohamed were repatriated [JURIST report] to Algeria in August 2008 after being held at the Guantanamo Bay detention facility for seven years.



 

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