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Bin Laden driver sentenced to five and a half years in jail

Latest update : 2008-08-09

Osama bin Laden's former driver, Salim Hamdan, was sentenced to five-and-a-half years in prison for providing material support for terrorism, a military court in Guantanamo Bay ruled.

A military jury on Thursday sentenced Osama bin Laden's ex-driver Salim Hamdan to five years and six months in prison for supporting terrorism, far below the minimum 30 years prosecutors had requested.
   
Taking into account time Hamdan has already been incarcerated by the US military, the sentence adds only an additional five months, although the Pentagon has indicated it has no immediate plans to release him.
   
"It is my duty as president (of the jury) to inform you that this military commission sentences you to be confined for 66 months," one of the six-member jury told the court.
   
The judge, Navy officer Keith Allred, noted that Hamdan had been given five years and one month credit for the time he spent behind bars since he was initially charged with terrorism by US authorities.
   
Once Hamdan completes his sentence at the Guantanamo prison, Allred said: "After that I don't know what happens."
   
"Apparently you become eligible for administrative review" when a panel at the US-prison will decide if Hamdan still poses a threat and should be released from his detention as an "unlawful enemy combatant."
   
The US military holds inmates at the US naval base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, indefinitely without charge, a policy that has been condemned at home and abroad as a violation of basic human rights.
   
Pentagon officials have insisted they retain the right to keep Hamdan in prison whatever his sentence in the war crimes trial.
   
But defense lawyers and human rights advocates say the United States will come under intense international pressure to release Hamdan if it refuses to free him even after he serves his sentence.
   
They also say they would fight such a result in US federal courts.
   
Hamdan afterward thanked the jury and reiterated that he felt remorse for any harm he had caused by his actions.
   
"I would like to apologize one more time to all the members and I would like to thank you for what you have done," said Hamdan, speaking in Arabic through an interpreter.
   
Hamdan then smiled and embraced his longtime defense lawyer, Charles Swift.
 

Date created : 2008-08-08

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