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Outspoken US Marines defense lawyer resigning, labeling Guantanamo justice 'horrific'

[JURIST] Lt. Col. Colby Vokey, the outspoken US Marine Corps chief defense lawyer for the western US, is resigning from his post effective May 1, 2008, calling the military legal system at Guantanamo Bay "horrific" and a "sham" and urging corrective action to address abuses within the general military justice system, NPR reported Tuesday. While working on the case of Guantanamo detainee Omar Khadr [Trial Watch profile; JURIST news archive], Vokey said he was harassed by military staff, who made it difficult for him to even arrange meetings with his client. Vokey later told reporters that he understood how Khadr was unable to trust his American lawyers, saying that the US has subjected him to "a process that is patently unfair." Vokey's criticisms initially prompted senior officers to fire him, a move only rescinded after pressure from former Marine Corps lawyers. Vokey has since opted to leave on his own.

In October last year Vokey called for an investigation [JURIST report] of alleged abuses of Guantanamo detainees after reviewing a sworn statement filed by his Marine paralegal who said she spoke with a group of off-duty Marines who identified themselves as guards and bragged of beating and abusing prisoners. Sgt. Heather Cerveny was later accused by military officials of making a false statement, but the case against her was ultimately dropped [JURIST reports]. NPR has more.

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