Guantanamo court resumes with squabbling lawyers

Mon Jun 1, 2009 7:39pm EDT
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By Jane Sutton

GUANTANAMO BAY U.S. NAVAL BASE, Cuba (Reuters) - The Guantanamo war crimes court wheezed back into session long enough on Monday to allow a young Canadian defendant to fire most of his squabbling U.S. military lawyers.

In the first session since President Barack Obama took office in January, defendant Omar Khadr told the military judge he could no longer trust his Pentagon-appointed defense lawyers because they had been fighting among themselves for months.

"They've been accusing each other and pointing fingers at each other ... I want to erase all of them," said Khadr, who is accused of killing a U.S. soldier with a grenade during a firefight in Afghanistan seven years ago.

His lawyers would not discuss specifics but said they disagree on what is in Khadr's best interest.

The judge let Khadr fire all but one of them until his Canadian advisers can help him choose a permanent replacement.

Obama has ordered the Guantanamo detention operation shut down by January 2010 and asked military judges to freeze the pending trials for 120 days to give his administration time to decide how to proceed.

The freeze expired and prosecutors have asked for another 120 days' delay as the Obama team sorts out which of the 240 Guantanamo prisoners should be tried, where and how.

Khadr's judge will not rule on extending the stay until he determines which lawyer speaks for Khadr. He set a hearing on July 13 to revisit the issue.   Continued...

<p>In this photo of a sketch by courtroom artist Janet Hamlin, reviewed by the U.S. military, Canadian defendant Omar Khadr (L) sits with his defence team during a hearing inside the courthouse for the U.S. war crimes commission, at the Camp Justice compound, at Guantanamo Bay U.S. Naval Base, Cuba, Monday, June 1, 2009. REUTERS/Janet Hamlin/Pool</p>