Ex-prosecutor says Gitmo evidence ill-kept

Jan. 14, 2009 at 12:00 PM
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WASHINGTON, Jan. 14 (UPI) -- Evidence preservation for Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, detainees was so chaotic that preparing a fair, successful prosecution was difficult, a former prosecutor said.

Darrel Vandeveld, a former U.S. Army Reserve lieutenant colonel, filed the statement in support of a petition for the release of Mohammed Jawad, an Afghan national held at the military prison for six years, The Washington Post reported Wednesday. Jawad was transferred to the facility after being detained in Kabul in 2002 following a grenade attack that wounded two U.S. Special Forces soldiers and their interpreter.

Vandeveld was lead prosecutor in the case until he asked to be relieved, citing a crisis of conscience. He said the case was rife with problems, including allegations of abuse upon Jawad by Afghan police and the U.S. military, as well evidence later determined to be missing or faulty.

Vandeveld told the Post evidence in Guantanamo Bay cases often was so disorganized "it was like a stash of documents found in a village in a raid and just put on a plane to the U.S."

Military leaders denied the claims.

Military defense lawyers also said the Office of Military Commissions accidentally may have withdrawn charges against Guantanamo Bay detainees, including Jawad and Khalid Sheik Mohammed, the self-proclaimed mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States, the Post reported.

Defense lawyers said the office when creating new jury panels also re-referred all charges, which would require new arraignments.

"This was a royal screw-up," said Air Force Reserve Maj. David Frakt, Jawad's military attorney.

Pentagon officials called the move "simply an administrative action to update commission panels."

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