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.
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The military court system within which Hamdan is being tried has been controversial since it was established under the Military Commissions Act of 2006 because it allows for the use of hearsay evidence and some forms of coerced evidence, both of which are forbidden in US civilian courts. Trials are also held before a jury of between five and 13 uniformed military officers, who are free to question witnesses, as are the judge and attorneys.Skip to next paragraph
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The jurors in the Hamdan case have been drawn from US military posts around the world. For some of the jurors called to serve, years of fighting the 'war on terror' have made it a challenge to appear unbiased, reports Reuters.
The final jury includes two Army lieutenant colonels, an Army colonel, a Navy captain, an Air Force colonel and a Marine lieutenant colonel. Allred ordered their identities kept secret.
During questioning of the prospective jurors, the judge asked if they would have any bias against Hamdan because he was Arab, Muslim or Yemeni. All said no.
One prospective juror who was eliminated, a Navy captain and former policeman, said he knew the commander of the USS Cole, which was struck by a suicide bombing in 2000 in a Yemeni port, killing 17 American sailors. "No one wants to see shipmates hurt and killed. It angered me," he said.
Another was excused because he knew a prosecution witness....
Another was an Army officer who said he believed the war on terrorism had started in the 1990s, not after the September 11 attacks.
He said he worked in operations analysis and had seen classified reports on radical Islam. "Radical Islam exists and I believe we are at war with it," he said.
In June, the Supreme Court issued a ruling challenging a provision of the Military Commissions Act, called habeas corpus, that strips detainees of the right to challenge the legality of their detention. The court ruled that detainees could challenge their detention in the US civil court system, although the procedures for doing that have still not been clarified.