Detainees’ rights debated as Guantanamo trial begins
After issuing landmark ruling, the Supreme Court has yet to clarify the appeals process for more than 275 Guantanamo detainees.
The first war crimes trial to be held by the United States since World War II began on Monday, when Yemeni national Selim Ahmed Hamdan appeared before a military court in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. The case proceeds despite continuing debate in Washington over detainees' legal rights in the wake of last month's Supreme Court ruling that allowed those in custody to challenge their detention in civilian courts.Skip to next paragraph
Israeli general hints at another Gaza campaign
Unclaimed attack on Islamic school raises tension in Nigeria
See no evil? Activists doubt credibility of Arab League mission to Syria.
Arab League observers head to Syria's war-ravaged Homs
Christmas church bombings put global spotlight on 'Nigerian Taliban' (VIDEO)
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
Military prosecutors in Guantánamo accuse Mr. Hamdan of being the personal driver of Osama Bin Laden and having extensive inside knowledge of Al Qaeda. But his defense attorneys deny that charge and say that his interrogation in Afghanistan and at Guantánamo was conducted under duress, according to the BBC.
Prosecutors say he belonged to Osama Bin Laden's inner circle, and was heading for a battle zone when he was arrested, allegedly with two surface-to-air missiles inside his car.
Mr Hamdan has acknowledged working for Bin Laden in Afghanistan from 1997 to 2001 for $200 (£99) a month, but denies being part of al-Qaeda or taking part in any attacks.
Mr Hamdan's defence lawyers have argued that the statements were tainted by what have been called "coercive techniques," and he was not advised of his right against self-incrimination.
His lawyers have tried to halt the trial on grounds of legality.
After one day of trial proceedings, the defense was handed an important victory when the judge refused to allow the prosecution to enter evidence that was obtained under duress in Afghanistan. While military commission Judge Keith Allred allowed evidence obtained during interrogations in Guantánamo, the move could still have important implications for future Al Qaeda war crimes trials, writes The Washington Post.
But the judge declined to suppress admissions made by Hamdan after he arrived at the U.S. military prison here, ruling that the Fifth Amendment did not apply to Hamdan and that "no coercive techniques influenced" what he said. Allred ruled, however, that to use the admissions, prosecutors must produce Hamdan's interrogators to explain the conditions under which the questioning took place.
Allred's willingness to throw out evidence in a proceeding against an accused al-Qaeda member could bode badly for cases the government expects to bring against planners of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, some of whom were subjected to far more coercive conditions. Khalid Sheik Mohammed, the self-confessed mastermind of those attacks, and other accused Sept. 11 conspirators are scheduled to be tried after Hamdan. Mohammed is one of three detainees the government has said was subjected to "waterboarding," a form of simulated drowning.