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Court to hear arguments over detainee's confession

Pentagon prosecutors want a federal appeals court to reinstate a young Guantanamo detainee's confession after a military judge ruled the man had been tortured and threw it out.

world Updated: Jan 13, 2009 12:41 IST

Pentagon prosecutors want a federal appeals court to reinstate a young Guantanamo detainee's confession after a military judge ruled the man had been tortured and threw it out. Military prosecutors on Tuesday were to ask the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit to allow them to use Mohammed Jawad's confession against him during his trial by a military commission.

Jawad is accused of throwing a grenade that wounded two American soldiers and their interpreter in Kabul in 2002, when he was 16 or 17. Jawad is being held at the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, one of the youngest detainees there.

He was supposed to face trial early this month, the last military commission trial before President George W Bush leaves office. But a military judge, Army Col. Stephen Henley, indefinitely delayed the case against Jawad after deciding to throw his confession out. Henley ruled that Jawad's confession to Afghan police commanders and high-ranking government officials on December 17, 2002, was only achieved after they threatened to kill him and his family _ a strategy that Henley said was intended to inflict severe pain and constituted torture.

Henley disqualified Jawad's second confession while in US custody on December 17 and 18, in part because the US interrogator used techniques to maintain "the shock and fearful state" associated with his arrest by Afghan police, including blindfolding him and placing a hood over his head.

"The subsequent confession was itself the product of the preceding death threats," Henley said.

Under the Military Commissions Act, which governs America's first war-crimes trials since the World War II era, statements obtained through torture are not admissible as evidence.

The American Civil Liberties Union, Amnesty International, the Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers, Human Rights First and Human Rights Watch on Monday asked President-elect Barack Obama to suspend the proceedings against Jawad because of his age when his alleged crimes occurred.