U.S. court to revisit Guantanamo detainee's conspiracy conviction

Reuters News
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Posted: Sep 25, 2015 3:57 PM

By Lawrence Hurley

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A U.S. appeals court on Friday agreed to reconsider a June decision that threw out the last remaining conviction of a Yemeni man described as a publicist for al Qaeda who was prosecuted before a special military tribunal at the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit issued an order saying a 10-judge panel will hear oral arguments in the case of Ali Hamza al Bahlul, who U.S. officials said made videos for Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda organization. The court will hear oral arguments on Dec. 1.

The court's action had the effect of throwing out June's ruling in which a three-judge panel of the same court overturned the conviction on a conspiracy charge.

That three-judge panel ruled that Bahlul's 2008 conviction had to be put aside because the military tribunal did not have the authority to convict Bahlul of conspiracy, which is not a crime recognized under the international law of war.

Such a ruling could limit the U.S. government's ability to prosecute people using special military tribunals for offenses not internationally recognized as war crimes. Those cases could instead be heard in civilian courts.

In July 2014, the appeals court threw out Bahlul's other convictions for providing material support for terrorism and solicitation of others to commit war crimes.

The case is Bahlul v. United States, U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, No. 11-1324.

(Reporting by Lawrence Hurley; Editing by Will Dunham)