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U.S. prepares for Gitmo detainee trial

GUANTANAMO BAY, Cuba, July 20 (UPI) -- U.S. military officials Sunday prepared for the first war-crimes trial for a Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, detainee.

Salim Ahmed Hamdan, 37, allegedly served as Osama bin Laden's driver in Afghanistan and is charged with conspiracy and supporting terrorism.

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If Hamdan is convicted by the tribunal, which starts Monday, he faces life in prison, the Chicago Tribune reported.

The newspaper said Hamdan's case will be a test for legitimacy of the military commissions set up by the U.S. Defense Department to deal with the "enemy combatants" detained at Guantanamo. A case brought by Hamdan's lawyers resulted in a 2006 U.S. Supreme Court ruling striking down its first try at creating a legal framework for the tribunals and resulted in the passage of the Military Commissions Act.

Human rights campaigners say the system is still designed to produce "guilty" verdicts because the commission members who act as judge and jury are sympathetic to the U.S. military and evidence obtained through torture and coercion is admissible.

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