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Guantanamo judge delays Jawad military commission trial

[JURIST] The Guantanamo military commission trial of Afghan detainee Mohammed Jawad [JURIST news archive] that had been scheduled to start in early January was delayed indefinitely Wednesday by order of a military judge. US Army Col. Stephen Henley postponed the proceeding [Reuters report] to give prosecutors more time to appeal a ruling denying admissibility of evidence Henley had previously found to be inadmissible [JURIST report] because he concluded it had been secured under death threats by Afghan officials constituting torture.

Jawad was captured in Afghanistan in 2002 when he was 16 or 17 years old and was later transferred into US custody and brought to Guantanamo. He was designated an "enemy combatant" in 2004. He was later charged [charge sheet, PDF; JURIST report] with attempted murder and intentionally causing serious bodily injury for his role in a December 2002 grenade attack in Kabul which injured two US soldiers and an Afghan translator. In May, Jawad moved [JURIST report] to have all charges against him dismissed, alleging that he has been tortured in US custody and subjected to the so-called "frequent-flier program," in which certain inmates are moved between cells at two to four hour intervals in an attempt to cause physical stress through sleep deprivation. Jawad was the fourth Guantanamo detainee to be formally charged with war crimes under the 2006 Military Commissions Act [text, PDF], was set to face a military commission on January 5, 2009. His trial would have been the last started under the Bush administration. President-elect Barack Obama has pledged to close Guantanamo but has as yet offered no timetable and no plan for dealing with prisoners or their outstanding cases.

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