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New judge assigned to Khalid Sheikh Mohammed military commission trial

[JURIST] The US military has assigned Army judge Col. Stephen Henley [DOD biography, PDF] to preside over the the war crimes trial of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed [BBC profile; JURIST news archive], the self proclaimed architect of the 9/11 attacks [JURIST report], according to a Miami Herald report [text]. Henley replaces Marine Col. Ralph Kohlmann [JURIST news archive] whose announced retirement [JURIST report] from the post of chief judge of the US military commissions [DOD materials; JURIST news archive] was effective on Monday of this past week. Kohlmann had initially announced his retirement [JURIST report] in September, but said then that it would not be effective until April 2009. Henley's first hearing is scheduled for Dec 8.

Henley was first assigned as a military judge in 1998. In August, he ordered that military commissions [JURIST news archive] legal advisor Gen. Thomas Hartmann [official profile] not be allowed to participate in the Guantanamo trial of Afghan detainee Mohammed Jawad [DOD materials; JURIST news archive]. Henley held that Hartmann had made public statements suggesting he was overly favorable to prosecutors [JURIST report] despite the purported neutrality of his role. In October, Henley ruled that a confession given by Guantanamo Bay [JURIST news archive] detainee Mohammed Jawad [DOD materials; JURIST news archive] was obtained using torture and was inadmissible at his military commission trial. Henley found that Afghan officials threatened to kill Jawad and his family unless he admitted to throwing a grenade that injured three US soldiers in Kabul in 2002. He ruled that obtaining a confession using threat of death amounted to torture, and that under Guantanamo trial rules his confession is therefore inadmissible.

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