Salim Hamdan - Charges Dismissed

Charges Dismissed

In two separate military rulings, on 4 June 2007, the court dropped all charges against Hamdan and Omar Khadr, a Canadian citizen. Army Judge Colonel Peter Brownback and US Navy Judge Captain Keith J. Allred ruled that the men's Combatant Status Review Tribunals had simply confirmed the men's status as enemy combatants status. While the Military Commissions Act authorized the Guantanamo Military Commissions the authority to try "unlawful enemy combatants", the judges asserted that the commissions lacked the jurisdiction to try the men as "enemy combatants".

This meant that all the detainees' cases would have to be reviewed to determine if each was an "unlawful enemy combatant", as only then could a detainee be tried under the MCA. James Westhead of the BBC said that the court ruling, which affects all 380 Guantanamo detainees, represented a "stunning blow" against the Bush administration's efforts to bring the detainees to trial.

According to the BBC, following the rulings, the US government appeared to have three legal options:

  • Scrap the legal process and start again.
  • Redefine the inmates as "unlawful" enemy combatants at separate hearings.
  • Appeal the court ruling. No appeals court to review "military commission" decisions has yet been set up. (Later the Court of Military Commission Review was established for this purpose.)

The Washington Post, reported that the ruling made it likely that passage would be achieved for a Senate bill restoring access to the US Court system to the Guantanamo captives. The Washington Post speculated that the ruling might force whatever trials take place to be administered in the existing systems of the civilian courts or the military courts under the courts martial system system.

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