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Friday, May 30, 2008

Pentagon dismisses judge in Khadr military commission trial
Andrew Gilmore at 10:11 AM ET

[JURIST] The US Department of Defense (DOD) [official website] on Thursday dismissed the military judge presiding over the military commission trial of Canadian Guantanamo detainee Omar Khadr [DOD materials; JURIST news archive]. No explanation was given for the dismissal of Col. Peter Brownback [JURIST news archive], but Khadr's defense lawyers speculated that it was was related to Brownback's threat earlier this month to suspend the military commission proceedings [JURIST report] against Khadr until the US government submits daily records of Khadr's detention. Khadr's military lawyers had requested the records to corroborate allegations of abusive treatment of detainees at Guantanamo Bay [JURIST news archive]. In November 2007, Reuters reported that at a pre-trial hearing in the Khadr case, Brownback said that the Pentagon was unhappy with his decisions in the case, and that he had "taken a lot of heat" [Reuters report] for dismissing charges against Khadr [JURIST report] in June 2007. Those charges were later reinstated [JURIST report]. AP has more. Reuters has additional coverage.

Khadr, 21, faces life imprisonment for crimes allegedly committed at the age of 15 while fighting with the Taliban in Afghanistan. He was charged [charge sheet, PDF; JURIST report] in April 2007 with murder, attempted murder, conspiracy and providing material support for terrorism, as well as spying. In April, Brownback ruled [PDF text] that Khadr was not a child soldier when he was captured in Afghanistan. Khadr's lawyers had asked for the case to be dismissed [JURIST report] saying that it violated the Optional Protocol of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child [text], which gives special protection to children under 18 involved in armed conflicts.






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