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Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Pentagon releases military commissions manual
Jaclyn Belczyk at 11:03 AM ET

[JURIST] The US Department of Defense (DOD) [official website] on Tuesday released a manual [text, PDF] for military commission [JURIST news archive] procedures under the Military Commissions Act of 2009 [text, PDF]. The manual establishes the rules of evidence and procedure for the commissions, allowing for the admission of certain hearsay evidence and defining "material support" for terrorism. The manual's release came one day before a hearing [JURIST report] in the case of Canadian Guantanamo Bay [JURIST news archive] detainee Omar Khadr [DOD materials; JURIST news archive] on whether his alleged confessions may be used as evidence. The hearing was postponed briefly Wednesday morning to allow Khadr's lawyers time to review the new manual and was set to resume Wednesday afternoon.

Khadr's military commission trial, set to begin in July, will be the first under the Obama administration, which suspended military commissions shortly after the January 2009 inauguration. In February, Khadr's lawyers filed an emergency motion [JURIST report] in the Federal Court of Canada [official website] challenging the decision of the Canadian government not to seek his repatriation from the US [JURIST report]. The Supreme Court of Canada ruled [JURIST report] in January that the government was not obligated to seek Khadr's return to Canada despite having violated his rights under section 7 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms [text]. Khadr has allegedly admitted to throwing a hand grenade that killed a US soldier in Afghanistan, and was charged [JURIST reports] in April 2007 with murder, attempted murder, conspiracy, providing material support for terrorism, and spying.

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