Hamdan, who was captured in Afghanistan in November 2001, was initially impassive when the verdict began to be read out. But the BBC’s Kim Ghattas, at the trial, said he later appeared to break down in tears. Our correspondent says the defence team’s appeal could go as far as the Supreme Court. One of the defence lawyers, Michael Berrigan, said: “Is material support a war crime? The defence believes it is not. That issue will go forward on appeal.” The jury of six military officers had deliberated for about eight hours over three days in the first US war crimes trial since World War II. The prosecution had said Hamdan played a “vital role” in the conspiracy behind the 9/11 attacks. But defence lawyers said he was a low-level employee.
The BBC’s Adam Brookes in Washington says US President George W Bush will hope to use the conclusion of the first full trial as evidence that the Guantanamo Bay system does actually work. In its first response, the White House said Hamdan had received a “fair trial”. Spokesman Tony Fratto said: “The Military Commission system is a fair and appropriate legal process… We look forward to other cases moving forward to trial.” However, defence lawyers had said they feared a guilty verdict was inevitable and that the system was geared to convict.
Rights group Amnesty International said the trial was “fundamentally flawed” and called for all the remaining military tribunals to be halted and for proceedings to be moved to civilian courts. ‘Guilt by association’ Hamdan had admitted working for Bin Laden in Afghanistan from 1997 to 2001 for $200 (£99) a month, but said he worked for wages, not to make war on the US. The defence said the case was “guilt by association”. But the prosecution said Hamdan was an “uncontrollably enthusiastic warrior” for al-Qaeda. Prosecutor John Murphy had said: “He has wounded, and the people he has worked with have wounded, the world.” About 270 suspects remain in detention in Guantanamo Bay. Among the dozens of other inmates due to be tried there in the coming months are men accused of plotting the 9/11 attacks.
Source: BBC NEWS