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Guantanamo prisoners to access civilian courts

Latest update : 2008-06-13

Guantanamo prisoners have the constitutional right to challenge their detention in civilian courts, the US Supreme Court ruled. Despite this blow dealt by the court, the US attorney general said military trials at Guantanamo Bay would continue.

US Attorney General Michael Mukasey said Friday that the administration would continue military trials at Guantanamo Bay despite a Supreme Court decision letting prisoners appeal to civilian courts.
The Supreme Court, striking another blow to President George W. Bush's case for trying "war on terror" suspects in military courts, said Thursday that inmates held at the military base in Cuba had a right to appeal to US courts.
But Mukasey, in Tokyo for talks of justice ministers from the Group of Eight major industrial nations, said that the administration would not halt the military trials.
"I think it bears emphasis that the court's decision does not concern military commission trials, which will continue to proceed," he told reporters.
He said the decision instead focused on the "procedures that the Congress and the president put in place to allow enemy combatants to challenge their detention."
Mukasey voiced disappointment at the decision, while saying he had not reviewed it in detail due to the time-zone difference between Washington and Tokyo.
"I'm disappointed with the decision insofar as I understand that it will result in hundreds of actions challenging the detention of enemy combatants to be moved to federal district court," Mukasey said.
The US military has brought some 800 prisoners to the base in Cuba under the "war on terror," of whom two-thirds have been freed without charge.
White House hopefuls Republican John McCain and his Democratic rival Barack Obama have both said they would close the prison, which has been harshly criticised across the world.
Bush, on a visit to Rome, said he would abide by the decision but disagreed with it and would consider seeking new legislation.

Date created : 2008-06-13