Federal judge rules Guantanamo detainee <i>habeas</i> petition must proceed without delay

Federal judge rules Guantanamo detainee habeas petition must proceed without delay

[JURIST] A judge in the US District Court for the District of Columbia [official website] ordered [text, PDF] Wednesday that Afghan Guantanamo Bay [JURIST news archive] detainee Mohammed Jawad [ACLU materials; JURIST news archive], detained since he was a teenager, be allowed to challenge his detention in federal courts without delay. The judge denied the Justice Department's motion to dismiss or delay [text, PDF] a challenge to Jawad's case that had objected to Jawad's habeas petition because of pending charges that had already been referred to a military commission. According to the judge, the suspension of such proceedings has the result that "[detainees] cannot exhaust their criminal proceedings without suffering delay." The order set a status conference for Jawad on April 27 and cited prior case precedents that require "prompt 'adjudication' of Guantanamo detainee's habeas cases" such as the US Supreme Court's July ruling in Boumediene v. Bush [opinion, PDF; JURIST report].

The US Court of Military Commission Review (USCMCR) [official website] in February granted [order, PDF; JURIST report] a government request [motion, PDF] for a 120-day continuance on an intermediate appeal in its case against Jawad. Jawad's trial was initially delayed [JURIST report] in December to give prosecutors more time to appeal the exclusion of his confession, which was deemed to have been coerced. The original military prosecutor of the case quit the military commission in September citing conscience reasons. Jawad has been charged [charge sheet, PDF; JURIST report] with attempted murder and intentionally causing serious bodily injury for his alleged role in a December 2002 grenade attack in Kabul that injured two US soldiers and an Afghan translator, and was reportedly only 15 years old at the time. In May 2008, Jawad moved [JURIST report] to have all charges against him dismissed, alleging that he has been tortured in US custody and subjected to the so-called "frequent-flier program," in which certain inmates are moved between cells at two to four hour intervals in an attempt to cause physical stress through sleep deprivation.