Journalism in the Public Interest


Jury Dismisses Most Serious Charges Against Hamdan

The U.S.‘s first war crimes trial since World War II has ended in a split verdict. Salim Ahmed Hamdan, who acknowledged he chauffeured Osama Bin Laden, was acquitted of conspiracy charges, but convicted on the lesser charge of providing “material support” to al-Qaida.

Hamdan is set to be sentenced by the same jury this afternoon at Guantanamo Bay. One curious aspect of the trial—among many—is that Hamdan’s future depends little on the sentencing. The military can continue to hold Hamdan regardless of what the jury recommends.

The government has never alleged that Hamdan was a particularly important player in al-Qaida. Instead, it argued that he essentially aided and abetted terrorists. Perhaps its most damning charge was that Hamdan had transported surface-to-air missiles for al-Qaida.

The jury acquitted him on that charge. Instead, he was only convicted of providing support to al-Qaida “through his service as a driver.” 

UPDATE: Here is the breakdown of each charge and how the jury ruled.

John McCarthy

Aug. 6, 2008, 12:50 p.m.

Forty years ago the US Government conducted another top secret court-martial with fabricated evidence, witness tampering, a subsequent recantation which was secreted for two years and ultimately ruled as “newly found evidence and fraud on the court” resulting in the conviction for premeditated murder being overturned and eventually dismissed because a conviction at a new trial “would be highly unlikely”.

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