Author: Greg Loyd

Hadi Hearings Continued

SummaryGuantnaamo Bay - Military Commission Seal

The July 2015 session of the Abd al-Hadi al-Iraqi court hearings began Wednesday morning, 22 July 2015, at the Guantanamo Bay Naval Station. This session was scheduled to last until Friday, 31 July 2015. After about three hours of legal argument this morning, the court recessed the hearings without setting a new hearing date/time. 

Hearing Overview

At approximately 9:00am, the judge took the bench and began the proceedings. The judge noted that the prosecution, defense, and he had conducted a number of conferences since the court was last in session. These hearings were not on the record and were conducted by telephone. 

In reviewing these conferences, the judge noted that the parties had agreed to cancel prior hearings and instead address the pending legal issues during the 20 July – 31 July court hearings. The judge indicated that holding one longer hearing would be more efficient than conducting multiple smaller hearings to resolve these issues.  

Sunday, 19 July Conference

The judge stated one such hearing took place last Sunday, 19 July. During this hearing, one of Hadi’s attorneys informed the judge that the prosecution gave the defense, just two hours prior, information indicating that one member of the defense team may have a conflict of interest. At that time, the court delayed the start of the proceedings from Monday, 20 July until Wednesday, 22 July. However, after approximately three hours of argument morning of 22 July, the court recessed the hearings again so that the defense team could further investigate the potential conflict of interest issue.

Thursday, 23 July Ruling

On Thursday, 23 July, the court conducted another hearing with the parties off the record. The other Observers and I were notified afterwards that the court ruled that no additional hearings would be heard during the current court session. Therefore, even though the court hearings were scheduled to last until 31 July, no other hearings in the case would occur during this timeframe. As the court order will not be available online for approximately two weeks, I have not yet reviewed the document for information that may provide insight regarding the court’s rationale beyond what was said in court. 

The case is next set for hearings 21 September – 25 September. 

Preparing to Leave

Based upon this court order, the media, the Observers (including me), and others involved with the military commission process began preparations to depart Guantanamo Bay a week early. We originally planned on leaving on August the first, but since there were no more court hearings, it was time to head home.

My flight to Guantanamo Bay – by Greg Loyd

On my way to Guantanamo Bay: a quick meeting with George Edwards

I’m on the left, with Professor George Edwards who founded the Military Commission Observation Project at Indiana. This photo was taken in Washington, DC the day before my departure for Guantanamo.

I’m set this morning to go to Guantanamo Bay to monitor Military Commission hearings. On my plane, which leaves from Andrews Air Force Base, will be the judge, prosecution and defense lawyers, victims’ families, press, court reporters and interpreters, and other hearing observers. For 10 days we will be involved in pre-trial hearing in a case against alleged war criminal al-Hadi al-Iraqi, an alleged high-ranking al Qaeda member.

I appreciate the opportunity to represent the Military Commission Observation Project (MCOP) of the Indiana University McKinney School of Law.

 My Background

I graduated from Indiana’s law school over a decade ago, and I have worked as both a defense attorney and a Deputy Prosecuting Attorney. I have worked with many categories of individuals emotionally vested in cases – criminal defendants scared for their future due to charges against them, detectives who sink their nights and days investigating a case, family members who grieve for a loved one, and fellow attorneys who spend sleepless nights worrying upcoming hearings. I hope this balanced lense will aid me in better understanding each Guantanamo Bay stakeholder’s point of view and lead to reporting that readers find helpful.

 My Role

As an Observer, I will watch, listen, and ask questions about the rights of stakeholders in the al-Hadi al-Iraqi case. Obviously, one such stakeholder is the defendant who has significant rights and interests in the matter. Yet, so too do the families of victims. The press. NGO’s. Yes, even the prosecution. When evaluating the military commissions, it is important to consider not just the rights of any one stakeholder, regardless of who or what this stakeholder is, but rather, the analysis must be global in nature. Given that much has been written about the defendant’s rights, I will try to pay close attention to another stakeholder — the rights of the Guantanamo Bay prosecution — in an effort to contribute to a full discussion.

A helpful starting point is to ensure an understanding of the charges filed against a defendant.

Abd al-Hadi al-Iraqi

Abd al-Hadi al-Iraqi

What are “Charges”?

Charges are the formal method that the government uses to accuse an individual (the defendant) with having committed a crime. The charges are not evidence and the filing of a charge does not mean that the defendant is guilty. Rather, it is the Government’s responsibility to prove at trial that the defendant is guilty. The Government filed fives charges against Hadi al-Iraqi.

Charges Against Hadi al Iraqi

Here is a brief explanation of the charges filed against the defendant.

  1. Denying Quarter

In short, the Government alleges that Hadi al Iraqi ordered his combat forces in Afghanistan and Pakistan that when they engaged in combat, they were to take no prisoners, even if the opposing forces attempted to surrender.

  1. Attacking Protected Property

Here, the Government alleges that the defendant attacked a military medical helicopter as it attempted to evacuate a U.S. military member from a battlefield and that the defendant knew the helicopter was a medical helicopter.

  1. Using Treachery or Perfidy

The Government asserts that the defendant detonated explosives in a vehicles that killed and injured German, Canadian, British, and Estonian military personnel.

  1. Attempted Use of Treachery or Perfidy

Hadi al-Iraqi is charged in this count with attempting to detonate explosives in a vehicle to kill or injure U.S. military members.

  1. Conspiracy

The Government contends that the defendant entered into an agreement with Usama bin Laden and others to commit terrorism, denying quarter, and murder (among other acts), and that he took at least one step to accomplish the purpose of the agreement.

Conclusion

I’m looking forward to monitoring the upcoming hearings. In applying my experiences, I hope to share a thoughtful analysis regarding my observations at Guantanamo Bay that contributes to the exploration of the rights of all stakeholders.

By Greg Loyd