Politics continues to pollute military "justice" at Guantánamo
The chief judge at Guantánamo replaced the military judge in one of the most closely watched war crimes cases on Thursday, creating a new controversy in the military commission system and the potential for new delays.
The decision to replace the judge, Col. Peter E. Brownback III, came without explanation from the chief military judge, Col. Ralph H. Kohlmann. Judge Brownback has been presiding over pretrial proceedings in the prosecution of Omar Ahmed Khadr, a 21-year-old Canadian charged with the killing of an American serviceman in Afghanistan.
Pentagon spokesmen said Judge Brownback, a retired Army judge who was recalled to hear Guantánamo cases in 2004, would return to retirement as a result of “a mutual decision” between the judge and the Army.
But defense lawyers and critics of Guantánamo said there had been no warning of the change and suggested that he had been removed because of a recent ruling that was a rebuke to prosecutors.
During a proceeding on May 8, Judge Brownback expressed irritation that military prosecutors had failed to turn over records of Mr. Khadr’s incarceration to defense lawyers. He threatened to stop pretrial proceedings if the records were not supplied by May 22. They met that deadline.
At the time, Judge Brownback said he had been “badgered and beaten and bruised” by the chief military prosecutor in the case, Maj. Jeffrey D. Groharing, to move the case toward a trial quickly.
Mr. Khadr’s military defense lawyer, Lt. Cmdr. William C. Kuebler, on Friday called the replacement of the judge “very odd.”
"very odd" indeed... Submit To Propeller
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