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Saturday, April 08, 2006

Pentagon rules thwart fair trials for Guantanamo detainees: US military lawyer
Greg Sampson at 11:21 AM ET

[JURIST] A US military lawyer acting as defense counsel for a Yemeni prisoner on trial for terrorism-related offenses before a military commission [DOD backgrounder; JURIST news archive] at Guantanamo Bay [JURIST news archive] on Friday challenged a US Department of Defense regulation that says that only military attorneys with security clearances are allowed to see secret documents relating to their cases, effectively precluding detainees from representing themselves. Army Maj. Tom Fleener [Wikipedia profile] said that self-representation was recognized as a right by virtually every court in the world, and argued that "the secretary of defense and his delegees [sic] have messed this thing up" by enforcing procedural rules that make impossible a fair trial of detainees as mandated by presidential order.

Defendant Ali Hamza al-Bahlul has been directly tied to Osama bin Laden. Al-Bahlul has been boycotting his trial [JURIST report] since the military commissions resumed in January after a year-long hiatus. In March he specifically claimed that no "enemy" US military lawyer could represent him, demanding instead that he be allowed to defend himself or hire a Yemeni lawyer. Reuters has more.

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