Second Unconstitutional Military Commission Trial Ends In Conviction At Guantánamo

November 3, 2008 12:00 am

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GUANTÁNAMO BAY, Cuba – After a flawed military commission trial that was boycotted by the accused, a jury of nine military officers found Ali Hamza al Bahlul guilty of crimes including conspiracy and providing material support to al Qaeda. The American Civil Liberties Union was at Guantánamo Bay observing the al Bahlul proceedings, which, like all of the military commissions, lacked the fairness and transparency found in traditional U.S. or military courts.

The following can be attributed to Jamil Dakwar, Director of the ACLU Human Rights Program, who was at Guantánamo observing the proceedings:

“The conviction of Al Bahlul is yet another example of a military commission system set up to produce convictions, not to deliver real justice. Unfortunately, because the system is fundamentally flawed and lacks any semblance of due process, a cloud of illegitimacy hangs over this verdict. The world deserves better than that from America. The next president should close Guantánamo and future prosecutions should occur in criminal or military courts where the Constitution still means something and where verdicts, no matter what they are, can be trusted.”

Al Bahlul, who has been detained at Guantánamo since 2002, boycotted his trial and, at al Bahlul’s request, his court-appointed military defense lawyer, Major David Frakt, remained silent throughout the proceedings. The jury of nine military officers, six of whom served on the panel that convicted Australian David Hicks in 2007, deliberated fewer than four hours on Friday.

The ACLU calls on the next president to close Guantánamo, ban torture and end extraordinary rendition.

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