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US military judge drops charges against second Guantanamo detainee

[JURIST] US Navy Capt. Keith J. Allred, the judge presiding over military commission proceedings against Yemeni Guantanamo Bay detainee Salim Ahmed Hamdan [Trial Watch profile; JURIST news archive] Monday dismissed [PDF text] all charges [JURIST report; charge sheet, PDF] against Hamdan, citing a lack of jurisdiction and echoing another judge's dismissal of charges [JURIST report] against Canadian detainee Omar Khadr [Trial Watch profile; JURIST news archive] earlier in the day. Both judges found that the detainees could not currently be tried as "unlawful enemy combatants" under the Military Commission Act of 2006 (MCA) [PDF text]. Hamdan and Khadr were designated "enemy combatants" by Combatant Status Review Tribunals [DOD materials] at Guantanamo, not "unlawful enemy combatants."

A White House spokesperson said Monday that the administration disagreed with the rulings [Reuters report], but said that the decisions reflect that great efforts are being taken to ensure that the Guantanamo commissions comply with the law. Military prosecutors in both cases have said they intended to appeal the decisions, and Army Maj. Beth Kubala, spokesperson for the Office of Military Commissions (OMC), said [AFPS report] that the "OMC will continue to operate in a manner that's fair, transparent, open and legitimate," characterizing the dismissals as an indication of the military commission's independence.

In August 2005, Hamdan challenged [JURIST report] the legality of his pending trial before the US Supreme Court, arguing [JURIST report] that the then-existing commission system set up by presidential order was unfair because it allowed the executive's military subordinates to determine who will act as judge and jury and also decide which crimes would be prosecuted. The court ruled [JURIST report] in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld [PDF text] that the military commissions as initially constituted were illegal under military law and the Geneva Conventions, prompting Congress to pass the Military Commissions Act of 2006. AP has more.

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