U.S. wants more delays at Guantanamo war court

Wed Jul 15, 2009 6:09pm EDT
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By Jim Loney

GUANTANAMO BAY U.S. NAVAL BASE, Cuba (Reuters) - U.S. military prosecutors asked the Guantanamo war courts on Wednesday to further delay cases against three prisoners to give the Obama administration more time to sort out the future of the first U.S. war crimes tribunals since World War Two.

The beleaguered Guantanamo war court, hobbled by legal challenges and technical problems, creaked into session for only the second time since U.S. President Barack Obama cast it into limbo shortly after he took office in January.

Judges hearing the cases of Canadian detainee Omar Khadr and Sudanese Ibrahim Ahmed al Qosi did not immediately rule on the requests for delays, while a delay until September was granted in the case against Afghan Mohammed Kamin.

Prosecutions are on hold while the administration evaluates the war court, which was created by former President George W. Bush to try suspects in his war on terrorism.

Obama has ordered the Guantanamo detention camp, which became a stain on America's human rights reputation and has been widely criticized by rights advocates, closed by next January.

But Washington is still trying to determine what to do with the approximately 240 prisoners who remain. Only 11 have been charged with crimes and U.S. military prosecutors say they have viable cases against 66.


Prosecutors asked the war court on Wednesday to delay the cases until September "in the interest of justice" to allow the administration time to complete its review.   Continued...

<p>Canadian defendant Omar Khadr (L) sits with his defense team during a hearing inside the courthouse for the U.S. military war crimes commission at the Camp Justice compound at Guantanamo Bay U.S. Naval Base, Cuba, July 15, 2009, in this photo of a sketch by courtroom artist Janet Hamlin which was reviewed by the U.S. military. REUTERS/Janet Hamlin/Pool</p>