Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

AFRICA NEWS

Search of Air Algerie crash site continues

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Sarkozy, Hollande and the scooter wars

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Confusion online over Air Algérie flight

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

The World This Week - July 25th, 2014 (part 2)

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

The World This Week - July 25th, 2014

Read more

REPORTERS

Halal tourism on the rise

Read more

ENCORE!

Tunisia's Carthage International Festival turns 50

Read more

FRANCE IN FOCUS

WWI Centenary: the battle for Verdun

Read more

THE BUSINESS INTERVIEW

When big companies want to do good

Read more

  • Photos: Youths clash with police at banned Gaza protest in Paris

    Read more

  • Limited Gaza truce extended until midnight

    Read more

  • Germany's Tony Martin wins 20th stage of Tour de France

    Read more

  • US evacuates embassy in Libya amid militia clashes

    Read more

  • Kerry in Paris for new round of Gaza ceasefire talks

    Read more

  • Second black box found at Air Algérie crash site in Mali

    Read more

  • Nibali rides serenely toward a place in Tour history

    Read more

  • Video: 'Lack of security' at MH17 crash site, FRANCE 24 reports

    Read more

  • In pictures: Devastation, debris at Air Algérie crash site

    Read more

  • Washington Post reporter and his wife arrested in Iran

    Read more

  • French families grieve for Algerian plane crash victims

    Read more

  • Lithuania’s Navardauskas wins 19th stage of Tour de France

    Read more

  • LA Times wipes France off the map in air crash infographic

    Read more

  • Fans electrify the mood as Tour de France crosses the Pyrenees

    Read more

  • French lawyer files complaint against Israel at ICC

    Read more

  • Protest against Gaza offensive turns deadly in West Bank

    Read more

  • Halal tourism on the rise

    Read more

US judge backs trial of bin Laden's ex-driver

Latest update : 2008-07-18

The first-ever Guantanamo war crimes trial, involving Salim Hamdan, is set for Monday after a US judge rejected a last-ditch attempt by Hamdam's lawyers to halt his trial. The Yemeni national served as Osama bin Laden's driver before 2001.

 

The first Guantanamo Bay war crimes trial, of Osama bin Laden's former driver, can start next week, a federal judge ruled on Thursday, refusing to intervene in the military process backed by President George W. Bush and Congress.

 

U.S. District Judge James Robertson rejected a request from attorneys for Salim Hamdan, who drove for the al Qaeda leader in Afghanistan, to stop his trial while he challenges the military tribunal system.

 

Robertson heard more than two hours of arguments from Hamdan's lawyers and the Justice Department over whether the trial should be delayed. It is due to start on July 21.

 

Hamdan, a Yemeni, would be the first prisoner tried in the U.S. war crimes court at the Guantanamo naval base in Cuba. There are about 265 detainees at base's prison camp, which was set up in January 2002 to hold terrorism suspects captured after the Sept. 11 attacks by al Qaeda in 2001.

 

Most have been held for years without being charged and many have complained of abuse.

 

Hamdan's attorneys said a landmark Supreme Court ruling last month made clear the detainees are entitled to fundamental constitutional rights.

 

"Guantanamo once was a constitution-free zone. It no longer is," Georgetown University law professor Neal Katyal, one of the lawyers for Hamdan, said in arguing for a delay.

 

But the judge sided with the arguments by Deputy Assistant Attorney General John O'Quinn, who said a 2006 law backed by Bush allows such challenges only after a trial takes place.

 

The Guantanamo trials are the first U.S. war crimes tribunals since World War Two. They were set up to try non-American captives whom the Bush administration considers "enemy combatants" not entitled to the legal protections granted to soldiers and civilians.

 

Human rights groups have criticized the Guantanamo prison and trial system as inherently unfair.

 

'FUNDAMENTAL FLAWS'

 

"We're disappointed in the court's decision but we look forward to, in the military commissions process, defending Mr. Hamdan," said Lt. Cmdr. Brian Mizer, a military defense lawyer.

 

"He's a driver and a mechanic, not a member of al Qaeda and not guilty of materially supporting terrorism."

 

Mizer said Hamdan's trial was "not going to be full, open and fair as the government has alleged."

 

"There are fundamental flaws in this system," he said.

 

Army Col. Lawrence Morris, chief prosecutor of the Guantanamo tribunals, said he was pleased with the ruling and that it could mean more prisoners charged more quickly.

 

"We had planned to continue forward in any event. Obviously it gives us more confidence to do so," Morris told reporters.

 

Robertson noted the law authorizing the tribunals allows a prisoner to go to the U.S. Court of Appeals after his trial at the base. He also cited a recent ruling by the appeals court that another Guantanamo prisoner cannot bring an appeal until after his military tribunal trial has taken place.

 

Spokesman Erik Ablin said the Justice Department was pleased with the decision and that the government looks forward to presenting its case against Hamdan.

 

Thursday's ruling was the latest in Hamdan's lawyers' challenge to the tribunal system that Bush created after the Sept. 11 attacks. Robertson and then the Supreme Court ruled for Hamdan in 2006, but Bush got the Republican-led Congress to adopt the 2006 legislation establishing the current system.

 

Date created : 2008-07-18

COMMENT(S)