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Archive for Saturday, March 10, 2007

U.S. has first hearings for Guantanamo inmates

March 10, 2007

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— The U.S. began a series of secret hearings Friday to determine whether 14 alleged terrorist leaders at its prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, should be declared "enemy combatants" who can be held indefinitely and prosecuted by military tribunals.

No details were released and a military spokesman, Navy Cmdr. Chito Peppler, declined to identify detainees who appeared before the panel of three officers.

Edited transcripts of the hearings at the U.S. Navy base in southeast Cuba will be released later, Peppler said.

The 14 detainees, including an alleged mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, were moved in September from a secret CIA prison network to the prison at Guantanamo Bay, where the U.S. holds about 385 men on suspicion of links to al-Qaida or the Taliban.

Some are expected to boycott the proceedings and their hearings will be held in absentia, Peppler said.