Gitmo detainee agrees to plea deal at military tribunal

Sudanese Guantánamo Bay detainee Ibrahim Ahmed Mahmoud al-Qosi on Aug. 9 reached a plea agreement with the US government setting out the maximum sentence he can receive at his military tribunal. The details of the plea agreement will remain sealed until he is released from prison, but it is reported to limit his sentence to between 12 and 15 years. According to al-Qosi’s lawyers, the government will allow him to serve his sentence at Camp 4, a facility at Guantanamo reserved for the best behaved detainees. Additionally, al-Qosi is said to have waived credit for the eight years he has spent in detention.

Also on Aug. 9, jury selection in his case began. The jury will be composed of military officers who will consider the evidence against al-Qosi and determine a sentence for him, but, if the jury sentence exceeds that set out in the plea agreement, it sentence will be set aside. Before the agreement, al-Qosi faced possible life imprisonment after pleading guilty to supporting al-Qaeda in their hostilities against the US since 1996, acting as the group’s cook and accountant in the 1990s and as a bodyguard for Osama bin Laden in later years.

Al-Qosi’s plea marks the fourth time a Guantánamo detainee has been convicted by a military tribunal since the detention center opened in 2002 and the first time a captive has been convicted since the Obama administration ordered the facility to be shut down in 2009. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) recently reiterated its call to end military commissions and try Guantánamo detainees in civilian courts. Al-Qosi has been detained at Guantánamo since he was transferred there from Afghanistan in 2002. In December, a military judge ruled that the US government could partially amend the charges against al-Qosi by changing his jurisdictional basis but could not include four additional years of alleged activities under the charges. In October, military judges granted continuances for prosecutors in the case against al Qosi. At the time, it was expected that the continuances would make way for a decision on whether to hold the remaining Guantanamo detainee proceedings in civilian or military court.

From Jurist, Aug. 10. Used with permission.