US military prosecutors charge Guantanamo detainee with war crimes News
US military prosecutors charge Guantanamo detainee with war crimes
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[JURIST] The US Department of Defense (DOD) [official website] on Monday announced [press release] that military commission charges have been filed against Abd al-Hadi al-Iraqi [BBC profile]. Al-Hadi is an Iraqi prisoner who has been held at the Guantanamo Bay [JURIST backgrounder] detention center in Cuba since 2007. The official charge sheet [text, PDF] alleges, among other things, that al-Hadi was a superior commander for al Qaeda and that he and his operatives killed multiple US service members and attacked a US military medical helicopter with rocket-propelled grenades and firearms. Prosecutors also allege [Reuters report] that al-Hadi funded and oversaw all of al Qaeda’s operations against US and allied forces in Afghanistan and Pakistan from 2002 to 2004 and that he directed his forces to use various unlawful means, such as attacking civilians and detonating car bombs in civilian areas. The charges against Al-Hadi will next be reviewed by a Pentagon official. If approved, the case can proceed [AP report] with arraignment on the charges, which carry a potential life sentence.

There has recently been much debate regarding the possibility of closing the detention center in Cuba and moving the war crimes tribunals to a US location. Last week the House Armed Services Committee approved [JURIST report] the 2014 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) [HR 1960, PDF], which would keep the detention center at Guantanamo Bay open. The bill allocates over 200 million dollars to restore dilapidated facilities and to improve staff facilities. The bill was approved despite a speech given in May by President Barack Obama [official website] that outlined plans [JURIST report] for closing Guantanamo Bay. In April the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay [official profile] called for US authorities to close down the Guantanamo prison camp [JURIST report]. This request came after the Center for Constitutional Rights [advocacy website] and defense lawyers for detainees held in the prison camp sent a letter [JURIST report] to Rear Admiral John Smith Jr. describing the harsh conditions faced by the detainees and also indicating that the detainees had begun to protest the conditions by participating in a hunger strike [JURIST report].