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Pentagon appoints new chief judge for US military commissions

[JURIST] The Pentagon announced Monday that US Army Col. James Pohl [JURIST news archive], who presided over several court-martial proceedings resulting from the Abu Ghraib prison scandal [JURIST news archive], will be the new chief judge for the US military commissions [JURIST news archive]. Pohl replaces Marine Col. Ralph Kohlmann [JURIST news archive], who announced his immediate retirement [JURIST report] last month. Pohl noted Monday that the military commissions process could change [Miami Herald report] with the inauguration of President-elect Barack Obama next month.

Pohl, who has served as a military judge since 2000, is best-known for declaring the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq a crime scene [JURIST report] and forbidding its demolition in 2004. Pohl also refused to allow [JURIST report] lawyers for the court-martialed soldiers to question then-Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld about the chain of command leading down to the soldiers charged with abusing inmates.

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