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US judge rejects delay of first military commission hearing since suspension order

[JURIST] Military judge Colonel James Pohl has rejected a motion to delay a military commission [JURIST news archive] hearing for Saudi Guantanamo Bay detainee Ahmed Mohammed Ahmed Haza al-Darbi [DOD materials], according to a Sunday report [text] by the Miami Herald. The hearing, scheduled for May 27, would be the first to be held since US President Barack Obama suspended [motion, PDF; JURIST report] the commission system in January. It will address al-Darbi's claims that self-incriminating statements he made while being detained were elicited through torture and should be excluded from the case against him. Lawyers for al-Darbi had sought additional time to prepare for the hearing, but Pohl rejected the request, saying that had been given enough time to prepare and that the hearing was necessary in order for al-Darbi's trial to begin. It is not yet clear whether or not the Obama administration will continue the use of the military commission system [JURIST report].

Al-Darbi is the brother-in-law of Khalid al Mihdhar, one of the September 11 hijackers who crashed a jet into the Pentagon. In March 2008, the US Department of Defense confirmed [press release; JURIST report] that al-Darbi had been charged [text, PDF; JURIST report] for his alleged role in a plan to bomb a ship off the coast of Yemen or in the Strait of Hormuz. He is accused of conspiracy and providing material support for terrorism under Sections 950v(b)(28) and (25) of the Military Commissions Act of 2006 [text, PDF]. He also allegedly attended and worked at an al Qaeda terrorist training camp and traveled to various locales in Pakistan, the UAE, and Qatar to buy materials and recruit help. Al-Darbi faces a maximum sentence of life in prison, and has tried to boycott [JURIST report] his trial.

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