Appeals Court Limits Guantanamo Military Tribunals

Posted June 16, 2015 at 5:00am

“In a ruling that significantly narrows Congress’s power to use military courts to try war crimes cases, a result likely to be tested in the Supreme Court, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit on Friday threw out the last remaining conviction of a propagandist for the Al Qaeda global terrorism network,” writes Lyle Denniston .  

“By a vote of two to one, the three-judge panel nullified the conviction of a Yemeni national, Ali Hamza Suliman al Bahlul, for conspiracy to commit war crimes, because that charge is not recognized in international law.  If conduct only violates domestic criminal law, and not law recognized internationally, it can only be prosecuted in a civilian court, according to the decision.”  

“The ruling, if allowed to stand after further appeals, would go far to restrict the continued functioning of the long-troubled system of military war crimes tribunals at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. So far, in nearly fourteen years of operations, the Guantanamo tribunals have led to the convictions of only eight individuals, out of more than 200 individuals charged there, and all but three of those eight guilty verdicts have been thrown out by reviewing courts.”  

Meanwhile, the Miami Herald reports that “U.S. troops delivered six long-held Yemeni prisoners from Guantánamo for resettlement in the Arabian Sea nation Oman on Friday…resuming transfers that had been stalled for months.”