Guantanamo Military Commissions Proceedings Underway

Two military commission proceedings are underway at Guantanamo Bay. The first is of Ibrahim al Qosi, who entered a plea deal last month, the terms of which are sealed. He is being sentenced today. Human Rights First has background on his case here.

The Judge in the Quosi case has just announced that Quosi's sentence will remain sealed until he's freed.

The second is the trial of child soldier Omar Khadr (background here.) Pre-trial motions will be heard first, likely to take all day, and trial will commence when they are done, probably tomorrow.

Two courtrooms are being used. McClatchy reporter Carol Rosenberg is already tweeting: Reports are that Omar Khadr has been brought to court and there are some serious tech problems with the video feed into the room where the print reporters are. You can follow her on Twitter here. [More...]

Rosenberg tweets:

Technology meltdown in #Guantanamo media room. Khadr hearing being shown on video, Qosi audio coming through. Voice, images don't match....War court snafu: Khadr hearing NOT being transmitted to print media room at #Guantanamo.

...We see Khadr prosecutor Groharing (courtroom 1) on screen and hear Qosi prosecutor Padgett's voice. (courtroom 2) Tough to cover.

...Two judges, 2 courts, 2 detainees having simultaneous hearings, one jury....Court sources say the military has brought Omar #Khadr to one court, Ibrahim al Qosi to the other.

The reporters are allowed to post pictures, but only after they have been approved by the military. The spokesman for the military prosecutors is former U.S. Attorney David Iglesias, who was fired during the U.S. Attorney firing melee. He is defending the prosecution of Khadr for the Obama Administration. As to Khadr, Iglesias says:

"There is no legal prohibition in the US to try underage" people, he said, adding that the prosecution would have no trouble asking that he be put away for life if he is found guilty of the charges.

Latest Rosenberg tweet:

Courtroom feed worked briefly, showed prison camp video of a scrum of US guards pinning down a weeping Omar, vowing revenge.

Among the motions to be heard today in the Khadr case:

One calling for lower-key security in the courtroom. Conspicuous security, the defence argues, could indicate to jurors that Khadr is dangerous and suggest guilt.

Another motion cites alleged "illegal punishment" in custody and calls for three-for-one sentencing credit if Khadr is convicted.

[Khadr attorney] Jackson will also be making a final pitch to have incriminating evidence deemed inadmissible on the grounds it was obtained by torture or other abuse.

Omar Khadr fired his civilian lawyers last month and is being represented by one military lawyer, appointed by the Pentagon, Lt.-Col. Jon Jackson.

I'll try to update throughout the day, either in this post or new ones, but the best way to follow the proceedings is by Twitter, using #Khadr or #Gitmo as your search terms.

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