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Military commission review court hears Guantanamo detainee confession case

[JURIST] The US Court of Military Commission Review (USCMCR) [official website] on Tuesday heard arguments [DOD press release] on whether to reinstate the allegedly torture-induced confession of Guantanamo [JURIST news archive] detainee Mohammed Jawad [DOD materials; JURIST news archive], which was thrown out [JURIST report] by a military commission last October. Military judge Stephen Henley [official profile] ruled that Jawad's confession to Afghan police commanders and high-ranking government officials on December 17, 2002 was "obtained by physical intimidation and threats of death which, under the circumstances, constitute torture." The judge also disqualified a second confession by Jawad while in US custody, taken one day later, in part because the US interrogator used techniques to maintain "the shock and fearful state" associated with his arrest by Afghan police. Government lawyers have argued [brief, PDF] that the American interrogation was legal and should not be disqualified as a result of actions taken before Jawad was taken into US custody. Lawyers for Jawad insist that although US authorities did not torture Jawad, the confession was obtained soon after the torture and should be rejected. US Army Lieutenant Colonel Darrel Vandeveld, the former lead prosecutor on the military commission trying Jawad, has backed an American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) habeas corpus petition [text, PDF] calling for Jawad's release, stating that there was "no credible evidence or legal basis" to justify his detention or prosecution.

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 is the fourth Guantanamo detainee to be formally charged with war crimes under the 2006 Military Commissions Act [text, PDF], which provides that statements obtained through torture are not admissible. Advisers to US President-elect Barack Obama said Monday that he plans to issue an executive order [JURIST report] during his first week in office closing the Guantanamo Bay prison camp.

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