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Plea Agreement Marks First Gitmo Conviction of Obama Administration

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July 8, 2010

Last night, Guantánamo detainee Ibrahim al-Qosi pled guilty to conspiracy and material support for terrorism charges. Al-Qosi, a 50-year-old Sudanese national who has been held at Guantánamo for more than eight years, was known as Osama bin Laden’s former cook. His conviction marks the first for the Obama administration in the military commissions.

Jamil Dakwar, who was in Guantánamo for the hearing as a human rights observer, said in statement last night:

Unfortunately, the legitimacy of this conviction and any other conviction in the flawed military commissions will always be open to question due to the fundamental problems with the system. Even with recent improvements, the military commissions remain incapable of delivering outcomes we can trust.

According to Military.com, Al-Arabiya Satellite News Network reported that al-Qosi agreed to a maximum of two more years in prison before he is released home to Sudan. The network cited two anonymous sources who read the plea agreement. Al-Qosi’s sentencing hearing is scheduled for August 9.

In other Gitmo news, Omar Khadr, the alleged former child soldier who’s spent a third of his life at Guantánamo now, has fired his lawyers. Khadr’s pretrial hearings will resume next week. Unless a plea agreement is reached, he could face trial on August 10 without defense attorneys.

Canadian lawyer Dennis Edney, who visited Khadr recently, told the Toronto Star‘s Michelle Shephard: “He appears to have given up hope. He doesn’t wish to participate in a process he sees as not only illegal but going against justice.”

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