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Guantanamo man tortured into confessing - US judge

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    Guantanamo man tortured into confessing - US judge Jane Sutton Reuters North American News Service Oct 28, 2008 http://wiredispatch.com/news/?id=434417
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 3, 2008
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      Guantanamo man tortured into confessing - US judge
      Jane Sutton
      Reuters North American News Service
      Oct 28, 2008
      http://wiredispatch.com/news/?id=434417


      GUANTANAMO BAY U.S. NAVAL BASE, Cuba (Reuters) - A young Guantanamo
      prisoner's confession to Afghan police was obtained through torture
      and cannot be used as evidence in his trial on charges of wounding
      U.S. soldiers with a grenade, a judge in the U.S. war crimes court
      ruled Tuesday.

      High-ranking Afghan government officials threatened to kill Mohammed
      Jawad and his family unless he admitted throwing the grenade that
      wounded the soldiers and their Afghan interpreter at a bazaar in
      Kabul in December 2002, the judge found.

      Jawad was 16 or 17 at the time and appeared to have been drugged,
      said the judge, Army Col. Stephen Henley. The Afghan officials who
      interrogated Jawad at the Kabul police station were armed and the
      death threat was credible, he ruled.

      Jawad was turned over to U.S. forces after confessing and, two months
      later, was sent to the detention center at the U.S. naval base in
      Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

      The judge ruled that extracting a confession under threat of death
      met the definition of torture under the Guantanamo trial rules --
      an "act specifically intended to inflict severe physical or mental
      pain and suffering."

      Trial rules allow the use of evidence obtained via coercion but not
      torture and leave it up to the individual judges to determine which
      is which.

      "While the torture threshold is admittedly high, it is met in this
      case," Henley said in his ruling.

      The ruling casts further doubt on the wobbly case against Jawad, who
      is scheduled for trial at Guantanamo Jan. 5.

      The military prosecutor in the case quit last month, alleging the
      U.S. government was suppressing evidence that cast doubt on Jawad's
      guilt. And a U.S. general who supervised the prosecutors was
      reassigned after fellow officers accused him of pushing for charges
      in the Jawad case prematurely because he felt it would excite the
      interest of U.S. citizens.

      Jawad's military lawyer, Air Force Maj. David Frakt, said the
      suppressed evidence indicated Jawad was drugged by Afghans who
      recruited him for a purported mine-clearing operation and that he was
      one of three people who confessed to throwing the same grenade.

      At a hearing in August, he presented testimony that Jawad was beaten
      and chained to the wall while in U.S. custody in Afghanistan then
      subjected to extreme isolation and sleep deprivation at Guantanamo
      even after the sleep deprivation program was ordered halted.

      About 255 suspected members of al Qaeda, the Taliban and associated
      groups are now detained at Guantanamo. A total of more than 750
      foreigners have been held without trial at the base in the seven
      years since President Bush began a war against terrorism.

      The two candidates for the U.S. presidential election Nov. 4 --
      Democrat Barack Obama and Republican John McCain -- have said they
      will close the Guantanamo prison, which is widely seen as a stain on
      the reputation of the United States.


      (Edited by Jim Loney and John O'Callaghan)

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