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31 Jul, 2009 20:30

Youngest GITMO detainee to be released

A prisoner at Guantanamo Bay is to be released after a judge ruled that he had been held there illegally for more than six years.

In 2002, Mohammed Jawad was accused of throwing a grenade and injuring two US soldiers and their interpreter back in Kabul. He was then taken to the Guantanamo base in Cuba and became one of the youngest detainees to be held there.

A US federal judge ruled on Thursday that Jawad was held illegally in Guantanamo Bay and must be released and sent back to Afghanistan, six and a half years after he said he was tortured into confessing at the age of 12.

Air Force Major David Frakt, the military defense counsel for Mohammed Jawad, hailed the decision by US District Judge Ellen Huvelle as "a victory … for the rule of law," AP reports.

"For the government to give up on the prosecution, to drop the military commission charges and to return him to Afghanistan is a significant victory for the defense, for the rule of law,” David Frakt said.

“It shows that the Obama administration is now committed to reversing the illegal detention policies of the Bush administration and restoring the rule of law," he added.

However, some US lawyers say that they are considering to file another criminal case against Jawad, the detainee in question.

“The detainee was challenging the government’s authority or the legality of the government’s detention of him at Guantanamo Bay. So, it was a civil suit,” an attorney at the Center for Human Rights USA, Colleen Costello, told RT.

“But, what the government is now considering doing is filing a criminal case against him,” the attorney added. “The government does have the authority to file criminal charges against somebody if they are in the government’s custody.”

All this comes at a time when the Obama administration is scrambling to meet the deadline to close down the GITMO by 2010. But, this proves to be not so easy to do.

Michael Macleod-Ball of the American Civil Liberties Union told RT that despite his being accused of wounding three men with a grenade, Mohammed Jawad has never been proven guilty of doing such a thing and therefore, according to American law, is innocent.

“The only evidence against this young man are his confessions that have been coerced through torture.”

“The system works in a way in which government brings charges against somebody and than proves that case in a court of law before a neutral arbiter according to rules of evidence. In this case, the government has had six and a half years to accumulate evidence that can be admitted in a court of law. It does not have that evidence right now. So I would be surprised if charges are brought against Mr Jawad,” concluded Macleod-Ball.

American allies are reluctant to take some of these detainees to their own countries. Moreover, even the US Congress seems to be confused about what to do, awaiting the relocation plan from the White House.