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Group files lawsuit seeking information about Bin Laden burial at sea

A government watchdog group Judicial Watch [advocacy website] announced [press release] on Thursday that they had filed a lawsuit [complaint, PDF] seeking information about the funeral arrangements made for al Qaeda [JURIST news archive] leader Osama Bin Laden [WP obituary; JURIST news archive]. The US Navy reported last year that Bin Laden was buried at sea in accordance with Muslim tradition within 24 hours of his death. The group is requesting any documents that were referenced in preparation for the funeral service and any other documents that reference the funeral service of Bin Laden. The group said that the Navy had previously acknowledged the receipt of their request for this information, but failed to respond within the time limit. The group notes that Navy regulations [text, PDF] of funerals require the reading of a specific prayer during a Muslim funeral service at sea. The group has also requested access to postmortem photos of Bin Laden, which US President Barack Obama [official profile] has said will not be released to the public.

Concerns about the nature of Bin Laden's death and his subsequent burial at sea have arisen since the announcement of his death [JURIST report] in May 2011, while US officials have maintained that their actions were lawful. US State Department Legal Adviser Harold Koh defended the killing [JURIST report] saying it was "consistent with the laws of armed conflict and US military doctrine." Days after the killing, human rights experts from the UN called on the US to disclose further details [JURIST report] of the killing, in order "to allow an assessment in terms of international human rights law standards." UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay insisted [JURIST report] on "a full disclosure of the accurate facts" surrounding the killing of Bin Laden after the White House altered the official account of the killing from its original announcement. US Attorney General Eric Holder told the US Senate Judiciary Committee that the killing of Bin Laden was lawful and justified [JURIST report], testifying that the shooting of Bin Laden was "consistent with our values," and that the soldiers who killed him "conducted themselves totally appropriately."

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