August 5, 2008

Jury Gets Gitmo Case

A six-member military jury Monday received the first terrorist case tried in a military tribunal at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

The six uniformed officers deliberated for about 45 minutes after hearing testimony for two weeks in the trial of Salim Ahmed Hamdan, Osama bin Laden's driver, The Washington Post said Monday. The jury was scheduled to be back in court Tuesday, the newspaper said.

Whatever the decision, Hamdan will remain imprisoned because U.S. President George W. Bush has declared him an enemy combatant, ordering him held for the duration of the war on terrorism, the Los Angeles Times said.

Hamdan's defense council and human rights advocates have been critical of government claims that the 38-year-old Yemeni received a fair trial.

Hamdan's defense was hampered by orders barring mentioning the CIA or its handling of Hamdan during a month in 2001 when he disappeared into a black hole in Afghanistan, said the tribunal's deputy defense chief, Michael Berrigan, who called the trial an obscenity, the Times said

What's the purpose here? Mr. Hamdan is going to be held until the government wants to release him, Berrigan said. It really has no connection to the underlying reality.

Scott Silliman, a Duke University law professor and 25-year veteran in the Air Force Judge Advocate General's office, said he believes jurors will be unbiased.

They're all senior officers, who are well versed in setting aside raw emotion in determining fact, Silliman told the Times.