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Gitmo military commission hearings resume for alleged bin Laden bodyguard

[JURIST] Military commission [JURIST news archive; DOD materials] hearings for two Guantanamo Bay [JURIST news archive] detainees scheduled to begin Wednesday have been delayed, but a third detainee will face a pre-trial hearing [docket, PDF] as scheduled. Ali Hamza al Bahlul [charge sheet, PDF; DOD materials] is accused of serving as Osama bin Laden's bodyguard and making al Qaeda recruiting videos. He has said that he wants to represent himself during proceedings, but the presiding judge has nonetheless appointed military counsel [JURIST report] to represent him. The other scheduled hearings have been delayed to allow the defense lawyer of one detainee more time to prepare and due to the death of the father of the second detainee.

Defense lawyers have sued to stop the war crimes tribunals, convened in August 2004 and the first held by the United States since World War II, arguing that they are fundamentally unfair for several reasons, including the use of secret evidence that the defense will not be allowed to see until trial, and possible use of evidence obtained through torture. The US Supreme Court has agreed to consider [JURIST report] whether President Bush had authority to create military tribunals to try terrorism suspects, and will hear arguments in the case later this month. A ruling is not expected until June or July, but prosecutors are trying to conduct preliminary hearings so that trials may begin immediately after the Supreme Court rules. Reuters has more.

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