Obama set to revive Guantánamo trials

US President Barack Obama is set to revive the system of military commissions for prosecuting Guantánamo detainees, but with more legal protections for the accused, the Washington Post reported on Saturday.

The new rules would block the use of evidence obtained from coercive interrogations, the Post said, quoting unnamed US government officials.

The proposed rules would also tighten the admissibility of hearsay testimony, and allow detainees at the camp at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba—which Obama plans to close—greater freedom to choose their attorneys, the paper said.

But it quoted a White House official as saying that no final decision had been made. One source told the paper the plan awaits Obama’s approval.

After taking office in January, Obama ordered a four-month freeze on trials at Guantánamo while his administration decided whether to move the Guantánamo prosecutions into the regular US civilian or military courts or keep the widely criticised special military proceedings established under the Bush administration.

Officials told the Post that the Obama administration will seek a 90-day extension of the freeze on trials as early as next week. It would then restart the military commissions on US soil, probably at military bases, according to a lawyer briefed on the plan.

Obama also ordered that the detention camp at Guantánamo be shut by January 2010 as part of an attempt to restore America’s human rights image.
But he is still weighing what to do with the 241 captives, and Republicans have seized on the issue, warning against holding them in the United States.

The prison was opened to house terrorism suspects after the September 2001 attacks against the United States. It became widely seen as a symbol of detainee abuse and detention without charges under the Bush administration. - Reuters

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