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Defense secretary rejects proposed Guantanamo court facilities

[JURIST] US Defense Secretary Robert Gates [official profile] has rejected a plan by the US military to construct a $100 million courthouse at Guantanamo Bay [DOD news archive; JURIST news archive]. The complex proposed last October [JURIST report], would have included three new courtrooms, a new high-security area for detainees awaiting trial, and other adjunct facilities. The compound would have accommodated up to 1,200 people, including lawyers, witnesses, translators, and journalists. In testimony before the US Senate Appropriations Committee Tuesday Gates said that current and temporary facilities would be used instead, bringing the cost down to one-tenth of the proposed $100 million, though he did not state a dollar amount. Currently, the Guantanamo prison facility houses some 400 detainees, of which 60 to 80 [JURIST report] are scheduled to face military commission trials [DOD materials; JURIST news archive] for alleged terrorist activities.

Currently, Guantanamo has only one courthouse, which raises concerns that already delayed trials [JURIST report] would be delayed even more. California Senator Dianne Feinstein [official profile], who last year criticized the Department of Defense for attempting to go through with the $100 million proposal without explicit Congressional approval, praised Gates' decision [press release] on Wednesday. AP has more.

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