Al-Nashiri GTMO Hearings – 5 – 6 November 2014 – Charles Dunlap

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Chuck Dunlap with Rick Kamman, Chief Defense Counsel for Al-Nashiri

Now that I have reliable internet access I wanted to post the remainder of my blog entries from my trip.  First about the hearings themselves.  The hearings took place Wed. & Thurs morning Nov. 5-6.  Rather than go into detail about all ten of the motions I will try to give an overview and summary of the proceedings.

Range of Motions

The hearings were scheduled for two days and actually ran for 1 1/2 days.  Of the ten issues, they can be summarized as follows;

  • dismissal of the death penalty since the defendant will not have access to classified evidence against him;
  • abatement of proceedings due to lack of adequate medical care for defendant
  • defense request to have access to an MRI machine to assess the defendant’s mental state
  • request for the defendant to have a Skype call with his parents
  • motion to withdraw the death penalty because it is no longer a military necessity
  • motion to suppress evidence due to lack of Miranda warning
  • motion to exclude hearsay evidence
  • other more procedural motions

Themes –Logistical Issues

Overall, the hearings were much like you would see in any court. However, one of the strong themes that came out of the hearing days was how the logistical challenges of being at Guantanamo Bay impacted everything and made things more challenging (and costly).  The logistics of having all of the court personnel travel to the base, combined with some of the limitations once at the base were very evident.

Another theme was the uncertainty on some of the procedures and trial logistics.  The parties often referred to the Military Commissions legislation but often there was no specific guidance on some of the more detailed points and issues so the parties had to look to other authority like federal courts.IMG_1429

Schedule Going Forward – 

The parties also worked with the judge to try and plan out the new schedule going forward.  The next big event will be pretrial hearings scheduled for February when the parties are set to begin arguments focused on the government’s efforts to introduce 72 hearsay statements which constitute the bulk of their case.  Since the standards for hearsay are different in Military Commissions, this will be one of the main pretrial events.

For those interested in looking at the specific pleadings, transcripts etc. you can find them at http://www.mc.mil/CASES.aspx).

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