Former Gitmo Prosecutor: Detainee Was Child Soldier and ‘Duped’
Last week, we wrote about the latest resignation of a Gitmo military prosecutor. The officer, Lt. Col. Darrel Vandeveld, complained in an affidavit that the government hadn’t given the defense all “potentially exculpatory evidence.”
Vandeveld had been scheduled to prosecute the case of Mohamed Jawad, who was captured as a teenager in Afghanistan after allegedly throwing a grenade at U.S. soldiers in late 2002. “Evidence we have an obligation as prosecutors and officers of the court [to turn over] has not been made available to the defense,” Vandeveld wrote.
We said we would publish Vandeveld’s affidavit if we could track it down. Well, we now have a copy (PDF). And it’s quite revealing. Jawad’s lawyers have long argued that he was essentially a child soldier, forced to fight against U.S. troops and potentially drugged. In his affidavit to the court, Vandeveld says he has seen evidence suggesting the defense is right:
My view of the case has evolved over time. I now accept that Jawad was under the age of eighteen when apprehended, I suspect that he was duped by Hezb-e Islami Gulbuddin into joining the organization, and it seems plausible to me that Jawad may have been drugged before the alleged attack on 17 December 2002. I base these judgments on the evidence collected at the time, and not because of any sympathy for Mr. Jawad himself, whom I do not know and have only seen during Commission proceedings.
Vandeveld goes on to write that he pushed for Jawad to get a plea deal in which Jawad would “serve some relatively brief additional period in custody while he receives rehabilitation services and skills that will allow him to reintegrate into either Afghan or Pakistani society.” Vandeveld’s bosses rejected the idea. According to the defense, they also sent Vandeveld to “to undergo a mental status evaluation.”
Here is the full affidavit.
Vandeveld is the fourth prosecutor to resign from Gitmo. Tomorrow we’ll explain who the other three are. The details of their cases are just as curious as Vandeveld’s.