After Obama order,Gitmo trials halted for 120 days

Hours after the US sought suspension of war crimes trials of suspected terrorists to allow the administration of President Barack Obama...

Written by Agencies | Guantanamo Bay Naval Base | Washington | Published: January 22, 2009 11:40 pm

Hours after the US sought suspension of war crimes trials of suspected terrorists to allow the administration of President Barack Obama to study cases in the “interest of justice”,a judge on Wednesday issued an order putting off for 120 days the trial of a Canadian accused of killing an American soldier in a grenade attack in Afghanistan seven years ago.

The judge,Army Col Patrick Parrish,issued a written order for the 120-day continuance,without holding a hearing on the question. Another judge was expected to rule later on a similar motion to suspend the trial of five men charged in the September 11 attacks.

Prosecutors submitted the motions just hours after Obama’s inauguration at the direction of the President and Defense Secretary Robert Gates.

US military prosecutor Clay Trivett said all pending cases should be suspended because a review of the military commissions system may result in significant changes. Obama has said he will close Guantanamo and many expect he will scrap the special war crimes court.

“In order to permit the newly-inaugurated President and his administration time to review the military commission process,generally,and the cases currently pending before the military commissions,specifically,the Secretary of Defense has,by order of the President directed the Chief Prosecutor to seek continuances of 120 days in all pending cases,” Trivett said.

Human rights activists and military defence lawyers had urged Obama to halt the special tribunals and move the prosecutions into regular US courts for trial under long-established rules.

Obama spent the first 10 minutes at the Oval Office reading a note left for him by George W Bush in an envelope. White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said the envelop was marked “To #44,From #43”. What was written inside was not revealed by the White House.

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