(AFP) – Aug 13, 2008
WASHINGTON (AFP) — Hearings opened Wednesday for two of the youngest detainees held at the US military base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, an observer with Amnesty International said.
Canadian Omar Khadr and Afghan national Mohammed Jawad were both teenagers when they were arrested in Afghanistan and eventually sent to Guantanamo Bay. Their separate hearings began around 9:00 am (1300 GMT) with both detainees appearing before the tribunal.
Khadr, now 21 and 15 at the time of his capture in 2002, faces a full trial in October on charges he threw a hand grenade that killed a US soldier.
His preliminary hearing on Wednesday was adjourned without any witnesses being called, and was due to resume later in the day, Amnesty observer Michael Bochenek told AFP.
Jawad, who was 16 or 17 at the time of his arrest, appeared at his hearing in a clean suit, with his hands and feet free, Bochenek said.
Two witnesses appeared at his hearing, including a US army officer who testified to the existence of a "frequent flyer program" at the military center under which detainees were moved from cell to cell, every hour or every two hours, as a way of depriving them of sleep.
"There are no recording documents" of such a program, though, the witness said, according to Bochenek, adding there were no details of how many prisoners were involved.
Jawad twice protested during the hearing, once to say that the witness was speaking too fast for the translator, and the second time to say that he preferred one of the two translators.
Amnesty denounced the hearings Wednesday saying in a statement: "Both were children when they were taken into US custody in Afghanistan in July and December 2002 respectively"
"Their years in US detention have been an affront to human rights principles, including standards governing the treatment of children in custody."
The Pentagon did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
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