September 29, 2008

Gitmo prosecutors seek resentencing for detainee


GUANTANAMO BAY NAVAL BASE, Cuba (AP) — Military prosecutors have asked the judge who presided over the war crimes trial for Osama bin Laden’s driver to order a new sentencing hearing, arguing the detainee should not have received credit for time served, officials said Thursday.

The motion filed Wednesday argues that Salim Hamdan, who is eligible for release by January, cannot receive trial credit for his time detained at the Guantanamo Bay Navy base as an “enemy combatant.”

“We’re not looking to jack up the sentence, just to have it on a legally correct basis,” said Army Col. Lawrence Morris, the chief prosecutor for the Guantanamo tribunals.

A panel of six American military officers sentenced Hamdan to 5 1/2 years in prison last month, making him eligible for release by January. The judge informed the jurors that time already served would count toward the sentence before they began deliberations.

Hamdan, the only convicted detainee at Guantanamo, was found guilty of supporting terrorism but acquitted of the more serious charge of conspiracy at the first American war crimes trial since World War II.

Prosecutors recommended a sentence of 30 years to life in prison.

Hamdan, 40, could be held indefinitely regardless of the sentence. The Pentagon reserves the right to hold him and other “enemy combatants” who are considered dangerous to the United States — even those who are acquitted or complete sentences in the tribunal system.

The motion calls for the judge to order the same jurors back to Guantanamo for a new hearing, said Air Force Maj. Gail Crawford, a spokeswoman for the tribunal system.

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