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EU still open to receiving Guantanamo detainees: report

An EU official told the Miami Herald Wednesday that Europe is still willing to resettle [Miami Herald report] Guantanamo Bay [JURIST news archive] detainees despite Congress' efforts to prevent closure and transfers. In a display of commitment to a 2009 agreement [JURIST report] with the US, the EU reiterated that detainees would still be accepted on a case-by-case basis. So far, 27 detainees have been transferred to European countries including Germany, Italy, Maldives, Georgia, Albania, Latvia, Switzerland, Slovakia and Belgium [JURIST reports]. With 171 detainees left at Guantanamo, the EU's support of transferring detainees comes just weeks after US Attorney General Eric Holder [official website] defended his plans [JURIST report] to prosecute terror suspects in federal civilian courts, responding to harsh criticism from Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) [official website] urging two Iraqi-born terror suspects in Kentucky be sent to Guantanamo.

Last year, Congress approved a spending bill [JURIST report] that included a provision preventing detainees from being transferred to the US for trial, despite the Obama administration's goal of trying detainees in civilian courts and closing Guantanamo. Last month, the US Department of Defense (DOD) [official website] announced [press release] the appointment of Army Brig. General Mark Martins [official profile] as the new chief war crimes prosecutor at Guantanamo [JURIST report]. He will take charge of detainee prosecutions including the upcoming trial of self-proclaimed mastermind of the 9/11 attacks, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed [BBC profile; JURIST news archive]. The case was transferred to military commission despite Obama's and Holder's plan to try 9/11 suspects in civilian courts.

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