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Hamdan entitled to POW status hearing: US military judge

[JURIST] A US military judge ruled [order, PDF] Monday that Yemeni Guantanamo Bay detainee Salim Ahmed Hamdan [Trial Watch profile; JURIST news archive] is due a hearing to settle his alleged status as a prisoner of war (POW) under the Geneva Conventions [text] and that the determination by a Combatant Status Review Tribunal (CSRT) that he was an "enemy combatant" was no substitute for that. In a POW hearing Military Commission Judge Keith J. Allred would consider whether Hamdan had been captured in connection with an international armed conflict as defined in Article 5 [text] of the Convention. If Hamdan were found to be a POW, he would be unlikely to face trial under the Military Commissions Act of 2006 [PDF text; JURIST news archive]; Article 102 of the Convention holds that a POW can only be punished for a crime if convicted under the same procedure that a US serviceman would face for a criminal military trial. A finding of POW status, however, would also establish the right of the US to detain Hamdan indefinitely until the resolution of the relevant conflict.

In October, the US Supreme Court declined to review Hamdan's appeal [JURIST report] challenging the constitutionality of the military commission system. Hamdan was allegedly a driver for Osama bin Laden before his capture and incarceration at Guantanamo Bay [JURIST news archive] and last year successfully challenged President George W. Bush's military commission system when the Supreme Court ruled [opinion, PDF; JURIST report] that the commission system as initially constituted violated US and international law. Congress subsequently passed the Military Commissions Act of 2006, but Hamdan argued that the current law still violates his rights. He had hoped the Supreme Court would consider his case along with those of other detainees challenging their detention at Guantanamo Bay [JURIST report]. SCOTUSblog has more.

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