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Guantanamo detainee agrees to plea deal at military tribunal

Sudanese Guantanamo Bay [JURIST news archive] detainee Ibrahim Ahmed Mahmoud al Qosi [DOD materials; JURIST news archive] on Monday reached a plea agreement with the US government setting out the maximum sentence he can receive at his military tribunal [JURIST news archive]. The details of the plea agreement will remain sealed until he is released from prison [Al Arabiya report]. According to al Qosi's lawyers, the government will allow him to serve his sentence at Camp 4, a facility at Guantanamo reserved for the best behaved detainees. Additionally, al Qosi is said to have waived credit for the eight years he has spent in detention. Also on Monday, jury selection in his case began. The jury will be composed of military officers [WP report] who will consider the evidence against al Qosi and determine a sentence for him, but, if the jury sentence exceeds that set out in the plea agreement, it sentence will be set aside. Before the agreement, al Qosi faced possible life imprisonment after pleading guilty [JURIST report] to supporting al Qaeda [GlobalSecurity backgrounder] in their hostilities against the US since 1996, acting as the group's cook and accountant in the 1990s and as a bodyguard for Osama bin Laden [CFR profile] in later years.

Al Qosi's plea marks the fourth time a Guantanamo detainee has been convicted by a military tribunal since the detention center opened in 2002 and the first time a captive has been convicted since the Obama administration ordered the facility shut down [JURIST report] in 2009. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) [advocacy website] recently reiterated its call to end military commissions [press release] and try Guantanamo detainees in civilian courts. Al Qosi has been detained at Guantanamo since he was transferred there from Afghanistan in 2002. In December, a military judge ruled that the US government could partially amend the charges [JURIST report] against al Qosi by changing his jurisdictional basis but could not include four additional years of alleged activities under the charges. In October, military judges granted continuances [JURIST report] for prosecutors in the case against al Qosi. At the time, it was expected that the continuances would make way for a decision on whether to hold the remaining Guantanamo detainee proceedings in civilian or military court.

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