A US military judge on May 19 granted a government motion to postpone hearings for Saudi Guantánamo Bay detainee Ahmed Mohammed Ahmed Haza al-Darbi. Chief judge for military commissions Col. James Pohl granted the government’s motion for a continuance until Sept. 24, reasoning that such a delay will permit the government to implement changes, complete the Detention Policy Review, and finish reviewing individual cases in a way that will serve the interests of justice.
The delayed hearing was originally scheduled for May 27, following a previously granted continuance in February. The hearing will address al-Darbi’s claims that statements he made while detained were elicited through torture and therefore should be excluded from the case against him. The hearing would be the first to be held since President Barack Obama‘s January suspension of the commission system. Obama announced last week that he was reviving the military commission system with some procedural changes to afford defendants more rights.
Earlier this month, Pohl rejected a motion for continuance brought by al-Darbi’s lawyers, stating that the defense had been given enough time to prepare and that the hearing was necessary in order for al-Darbi’s trial to begin. Al-Darbi is the brother-in-law of Khalid al Mihdhar, one of the September 11 hijackers who crashed a jet into the Pentagon. In March 2008, the US Department of Defense confirmed that al-Darbi had been charged for his alleged role in a plan to bomb a ship off the coast of Yemen or in the Strait of Hormuz. He is accused of conspiracy and providing material support for terrorism under Sections 950v(b)(28) and (25) of the Military Commissions Act of 2006. Al-Darbi faces a maximum sentence of life in prison and has attempted to boycott his trial. (Jurist, May 20)
See our last post on the Gitmo and the detainment scandal.