Pentagon to move ahead on Khadr trial after court approves jurisdiction

[JURIST] The Pentagon Tuesday declared its intention to "expeditiously" move forward with the trial of Guantanamo Bay detainee Omar Khadr [JURIST news archive], following a Monday decision [PDF text] from the Court of Military Commissions Review (USCMCR) [DOD materials] granting jurisdiction to military trial judges to hear the case. In June, a military commission judge dropped terrorism charges [order, PDF; JURIST report] against Khadr, ruling that the court had no jurisdiction because a Guantanamo Combatant Status Review Tribunal [DOD materials] had found that Khadr was an "enemy combatant," not an "unlawful enemy combatant" as required under the Military Commissions Act of 2006 (MCA) [PDF text]. The appeals court reversed that ruling, finding that the distinction was purely semantic; that the military judge had the power to hear evidence concerning, and ultimately decide, Khadr's "unlawful enemy combatant" status; and that the language of MCA Section 949a(a) and 948b(c) clearly show that

Congress intended for military commissions to "apply the principles of law" and "the procedures for trial [routinely utilized] by general courts-martial..." This would include the common procedures used before general courts-martial permitting military judges to hear evidence and decide factual and legal matters concerning the court's own jurisdiction over the accused appearing before it.
The USCMCR reinstated [JURIST report] the charges against Khadr, and the Pentagon said it expects prosecutors in that and other military commissions cases to quickly move toward trial [AFPS report].

Khadr was detained in Afghanistan in 2002 after allegedly throwing a grenade that killed one US soldier and wounded another while fighting with the Taliban. He was only 15 at the time. After earlier proceedings against him were effectively quashed by the US Supreme Court's rejection of presidentially-established military commissions as unconstitutional he was formally recharged [charge sheet, PDF; JURIST report] in April under the new Military Commissions Act with murder, attempted murder, conspiracy and providing material support for terrorism, as well as spying. AFP has more.

 

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