(AFP) – Feb 22, 2008
WASHINGTON (AFP) — The former chief prosecutor at the US military prison in Guantanamo Bay is to testify for the defense in the case of an ex-driver for Osama bin Laden, a lawyer for the suspect said Friday.
Colonel Morris Davis, who resigned from his post in October, is to testify on behalf of Salim Hamdan, a Yemeni accused of delivering weapons to Al-Qaeda operatives, who is due to be tried by a special military commission.
"We do expect him to testify," said one of Hamdan's lawyers Andrea Prasow, referring to Davis, an Air Force officer who from 2005 to 2007 oversaw investigations against suspects at the base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
Davis wrote in the New York Times this week that he resigned over a conflict with his superiors on whether information extracted by waterboarding -- a form of simulated drowning widely considered torture -- could be used at a trial.
He considered evidence obtained by waterboarding "off-limits" for the commissions.
"To do otherwise is not only an affront to American justice, it will potentially put prosecutors at risk for using illegally obtained evidence," he wrote.
"Unfortunately, I was overruled on the question, and I resigned my position to call attention to the issue."
Hundreds of suspects rounded up abroad in the US government's "war on terror" have been held at Guantanamo Bay, but none have yet been tried -- a cause of criticism by rights groups.
"There are some bad men at Guantanamo Bay and a few deserve death, but only after trials we can truthfully call full, fair and open," Davis said.
He told The Nation magazine on Thursday that the man who now oversees the military tribunal process for the Pentagon, general counsel William Haynes, has pressed for convictions at the controversial prison.
"I said to him (Haynes) that if we come up short and there are some acquittals in our cases, it will at least validate the process," Davis was quoted as saying.
"At which point, his eyes got wide and he said, 'Wait a minute, we can't have acquittals. If we've been holding these guys for so long, how can we explain letting them get off? ... We've got to have convictions.'"
Haynes judged that "waterboarding is a lawful technique to use on the detainees, which I wholeheartedly disagree with," Davis said on NPR radio.
Asked for comment, a Pentagon spokesman said: "We dispute Colonel Davis' allegations." The spokesman denied Davis' charges that the military commissions had been politicized.
"I have no sympathy for Mr Hamdan. But I do think he is entitled to a fair trial that's free of political influence," Davis, who now works as a lawyer at an air force base in Washington, told NPR.
Davis' testimony is expected at a pre-trial hearing around the end of April, Prasow said. The trial is scheduled to start in late May.
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