Here’s a summary of yesterday’s sentencing hearing in the military commission for Ibrahim al-Qosi from NIMJ’s observer Charlie Fowler:
There were several interesting developments in the al-Qosi military commission yesterday. Before the hearings got started there was a rumor circulating that the sentence in the pre-trial agreement (PTA) would not be disclosed. Sure enough, one of the first motions in al-Qosi was the military judge granting the government motion to keep Appendix A (which contains the sentence limitation) to the PTA sealed until al-Qosi is released. The defense joined this motion. The military judge determined that keeping the sentence secret was “in the best interest of the Government and Mr. al-Qosi.”
The military judge also heard a defense motion to compel government compliance with the portion of the PTA that specifies what type of facility Mr. al-Qosi must be held in after conviction. It was revealed today that al-Qosi was to remain in Camp 4 (communal setting) or the equivalent if the Guantanamo Bay detention facility was closed and the detainees were transferred to the mainland, evidently a possibility at the time the PTA was drafted to carry out whatever sentence is imposed. Evidently, no one in the Department of Defense is willing to ensure that this portion of the PTA is enforced. This portion of the agreement is “the lynchpin” upon which Mr. al-Qosi’s cooperation rested, according to the defense team. Lead defense counsel spent about 15 minutes explaining how important the Camp 4 portion was, how al-Qosi met all his obligations under the PTA, and asked that the government honor its part of the deal.
Then came an impassioned statement by lead trial counsel. He stressed that the Joint Task Force-Guantanamo needs to uphold the agreement entered into by the convening authority and defense. The judge’s solution was to announce that confinement in any facility on GTMO other than Camp 4 would be considered a violation of the PTA, and would result in the revocation of the plea agreement.
After the motions, voir dire (jury selection) of the panel commenced. It was the judge’s intention to get through the voir dire yesterday, but it will continue today.