[JURIST] A defense lawyer on Monday sought to have the charges dropped against Guantanamo prisoner Abd al Hadi al Iraqi, arguing that the US is violating international law and the Constitution by prosecuting him for war crimes. The trial for Hadi al Iraqi [case materials], a suspected Iraqi al Qaeda commander, is being held at Guantanamo Bay military prison [JURIST backgrounder] and is an international tribunal. But, according to defense attorney Air Force Major Ben Stirk, the prosecutors are using domestic laws to try him. Hadi al Iraqi is charged with being an al Qaeda commander who led attacks against the US and coalition troops in Afghanistan from 2002 to 2004. The Pentagon also accuses him [Reuters report] of plots to assassinate Pakistan’s then-president Pervez Musharraf. His defense lawyers argue that the conspiracy charges to commit murder were based on US law rather than the international law of war that could protect combatants from criminal liability. “The Military Commissions Act is implementing an international law of war tribunal,” Major Stirk said during pre-trial [transcript, PDF]. “These are the international laws of war, which is what the whole fight about conspiracy is, is that American common law would suggest that conspiracy is a viable war crime. That is not in any way accepted under the international law of war.” Assistant US Attorney Mikeal Clayton argued against the defense motion, saying that the charges meet international standards for criminal prosecution. Military commission Judge Navy Captain J Kirk Waits did not rule on the motion.
In recent months the US government has released several detainees, including some held at the facilities at Guantanamo Bay [JURIST backgrounder]. Last week a lawyer for former Guantanamo Bay detainee David Hicks [JURIST news archive] said the US government admitted his conviction was incorrect [JURIST report] and did not dispute Hicks’ innocence. Earlier this month a Qatari man arrested shortly after the 9/11 attacks and labeled an “enemy combatant” was released [JURIST report] and returned to his home nation. Also this month the convening authority for the Office of Military Commissions overturned the terror conviction against Sudanese national Noor Uthman Muhammed and dismissed [JURIST report] the charges against him. The US Department of Defense (DOD) [official website] last week announced [JURIST report] the transfer of five Guantanamo detainees; four were released to Oman, while one went to Estonia. In December the DOD announced the transfer [JURIST report] of six detainees from Guantanamo to Uruguay. DOD officials also announced that five prisoners at Guantanamo Bay [JURIST backgrounder] would be released to the Kazakhstan government, and four more [JURIST reports] to Afghanistan.