[JURIST] A military judge has denied [ruling, PDF] a motion to dismiss by Guantanamo Bay detainee Salim Ahmed Hamdan [DOD materials; JURIST news archive], holding that the military commission assigned to his trial has the appropriate jurisdiction to hear the case. Hamdan's lawyers moved for dismissal of the charges [motions, PDF] in January, arguing that because the charges of conspiracy and providing material support for terrorism did not exist at the time Hamdan allegedly committed them, they violated the ex post facto clause of the US Constitution and Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions [texts]. They said that the charges only became crimes after the passage of the Military Commissions Act of 2006 (MCA) [DOD materials], and that they could not be applied retroactively. The judge rejected the argument, writing that Congress's passage of the MCA was appropriate and allowed the charges against Hamdan:
In light of Congress's enumerated power to define and punish offenses against the law of nations, and its express declaration that in doing so, it had not enacted a "new crimes that did not exist before its enactment", the Commission is inclined to defer to Congress's determination that this is not a new offense. There is adequate historical basis for this determination with respect to each of these offenses.
A federal judge in DC had been scheduled to hear oral arguments Thursday on whether to stay Hamdan's trial [JURIST report] awaiting the ruling of the Commission's jurisdiction, but that issue is now moot. Hamdan's trial is currently scheduled to begin July 21. The Miami Herald has more.
Hamdan has been in US custody since 2001 when he was captured in Afghanistan and accused of working as Osama Bin Laden's driver. In 2006 he successfully challenged US President George W. Bush's military commission system when the Supreme Court ruled [opinion, PDF; JURIST report] that the commission system as initially constituted violated US and international law. Congress subsequently passed the MCA, which established the current military commissions system. In April, Hamdan announced that he planned to boycott his military commission trial, and in May a military judge delayed the trial [JURIST reports] until this month.