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US moves to suspend Guantanamo Bay war crime trials

By The Rediff News Bureau
January 21, 2009 14:11 IST
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United States President Barack Obama's administration has filed a motion for suspending the Guantanamo Bay war crimes trial for 120 days, reports The Independent, UK.

The motion, made at the instance of Obama and US Defense Secretary Robert Gates, is expected to be considered early on Wednesday local time by the military judge hearing into the case against five men charged in 9/11 terror attacks and against Omar Khadr, a Canadian who is accused of killing an American soldier in Afghanistan in 2002, the newspaper reports.

The 120-day suspension was being sought to enable the administration to complete a review of the system in place for prosecuting the suspected terrorists.

In the suspension motion, military prosecutor Clay Trivett has said a suspension was necessary in all pending cases since the review underway may result in major changes in the system.

In his motion, Trivett wrote, 'The interests of justice served by granting the requested continuance outweigh the interests of both the public and the accused in a prompt trial,' adding that the motion was being written at the direction of the president and the defence secretary.

Closing down Guantanamo Bay, where the US holds around 245 men, was high on the agenda of the new president, but relatives of the victims of 9/11, who were also at the base to observe the hearings, have opposed any delay in the trials.

On Tuesday, just before Obama's swearing-in, a military judge adjourned the war crimes court and noted that the future of the court was in doubt.

War crimes are pending against 21 men, and if the motion goes through judges will be required to suspend the other cases as well.

The war crimes trial was created by former president George Bush and US Congress in 2006.

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