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Khadr defense urges federal appeals court to review 'enemy combatant' distinctions

[JURIST] Lawyers for Guantanamo Bay detainee Omar Khadr [DOD materials; JURIST news archive] argued before a three-judge panel of the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit Tuesday that the court has jurisdiction to intervene in Khadr's case to determine whether only detainees found to be "unlawful enemy combatants" may be subject to a military commission [DOD materials], or if such hearings also apply to "enemy combatants." Department of Justice lawyers argued that under the Military Commissions Act of 2006 (MCA) [S 3930 materials], no civilian court can consider an appeal of a war crimes case until a military court has issued a final judgment. Chief Judge David B. Sentelle said that the MCA does not appear to expressly grant jurisdiction, but no final ruling was issued.

Khadr, now 21, faces life imprisonment after allegedly throwing a grenade that killed one US soldier and wounded another while fighting with the Taliban in Afghanistan in 2002. He was charged [charge sheet, PDF; JURIST report] in April 2007 with murder, attempted murder, conspiracy and providing material support for terrorism, as well as spying. Khadr's trial was originally scheduled to begin May 5, but last month US military judge Col. Peter Brownback postponed the trial [JURIST report] and instead scheduled a May 8 hearing in order to hear arguments on a number of evidence issues that must be reconciled before the trial can begin. AP has more.

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