Death Penalty

Gearing Up For Gitmo

Luke near a Tsunami Hazard Site in American Samoa, while on a 2014 summer human rights internship

Luke near a Tsunami Hazard Site in American Samoa, while on a 2014 summer human rights internship.

My name is Luke Purdy, and I am an almost-graduated 3L law student from Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law. I am scheduled to fly to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba on 29 August to observe the Military Commission’s proceedings against Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, which have been ongoing since 2003. I have also been scheduled to attend previous hearings at Guantanamo Bay, but these hearings (one of which was for Al-nashiri, accused of the 2000 bombing of the USS Cole) were cancelled at the last minute. 

Background

I first heard about IU McKinney’s Gitmo Observer program while I was interning in Melbourne, Australia for the law school’s Program in International Human Rights Law. During that time I worked on the defense of an alleged Serbian war criminal. This experience elevated my interest in the world of military law, specifically when it impacted the rights of criminal defendants. Soon after returning from my internship in Australia, I dove into more classes relating to international human rights. In one class, International Criminal Law, I was able to contribute to a Fair Trial Manual being drafted by the Program in International Human Rights Law for use by observers at Military Commission proceedings like the one I am scheduled to attend at the end of this month. As many prior observers have done, I will be bringing copies of these manuals for observers to use during the upcoming trial against Khalid Sheikh Mohammad.

alg-khalid-shaikh-mohammed-jpg

Photograph of Khalid Shaikh Mohammad, the accused war criminal whose hearings I am scheduled to attend.

The Charges

The defendant in this trial, Khalid Sheik Mohammad, is accused of participating in numerous terrorists plots against the United States, including the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center. Khalid confessed to many of these crimes. However, some have criticized the procedures used on Khalid to elicit these confessions, which included waterboarding. Ultimately, if convicted of war crimes, Khalid Sheik Mohammad could face the death penalty.

My Role

In line with the goals the Military Commission Observation Project, my task as an MCOP representative is to attend, observe, analyze, critique, and report on the Military Commissions. Specifically, I am interested in learning about the defense team’s access to discovery materials, and whether rules of confidentiality interfere with the defense’s ability to defend their client fairly. I would also like to see how classified information is used (if at all) by the prosecution, and get a sense of how “reasonable” the speed of the trial is, and whether proceedings are being carried out without undue delay.

(Luke Purdy, Indianapolis, 10 August 2015)

Poland Seeks Assurances From United States that Al Nashiri Will Not Face Execution

500px-Flag_of_Poland.svgThe Polish Foreign Ministry has requested assurances from the U.S. that Abd Al Rahim Hussayn Muhammad Al Nashiri will not be subject to the death penalty.  Reuters reported that according to the Polish Foreign Ministry Poland’s government “has taken steps to seek diplomatic assurances that the applicant (Nashiri) will not be subjected to the death penalty, first by engaging in diplomatic talks, and then by delivering an official note on the matter”.

The request from the Polish Foreign Ministry is presumably in response to the European Court of Human Rights judgement that Poland violated the European Convention on Human Rights by cooperating with the Central Intelligence Agency to detain Mr. Al Nashiri in violation of several articles of the Convention. The Court ordered Poland to pay €100,000 ($134,640) in damages to Mr. Al Nashiri, legal costs and expenses and ordered the Polish government to obtain diplomatic assurances from the U.S. that Mr. Al Nashiri would not be executed. The U.S. was not a party to the proceedings.

Reuters Report on the Polish Foreign Ministry Request

European Court of Human Rights Press Release, 24 July 2014

European Court of Human Rights Case of Al Nashiri v. Poland, Final, 2nd February 2015

Matthew Kubal, Indianapolis, Indiana, Tuesday, 3 March 2015