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Ex-Military Prosecutor Alleges Disarray in Handling Evidence Against Terrorism Detainees

"This was a royal screw-up," said Air Force Reserve Maj. David Frakt, Jawad's military attorney. Another military lawyer, Navy Lt. Cmdr. Brian Mizer, expressing disbelief at the action, said, "This is military justice 101."

A military judge at Guantanamo Bay has asked lawyers in the case of Canadian Omar Khadr, who is about to go on trial, to brief him on the matter.

"If, in fact, the charges referred on 24 April 2007 have been withdrawn and re-referred on 17 December 2008, it appears the first order of business at the Commission session scheduled for 19 January 2009 is to arraign Mr Khadr on the newly referred charges," Judge Patrick J. Parrish wrote in an e-mail to counsel.

Pentagon officials called the legal move "simply an administrative action to update commission panels."

"In some cases, the defense is challenging the way the substitutions were made," according to a statement by the Office of Military Commissions. "The military judges have ordered briefs on this issue. Depending upon how the judges rule, the government will be prepared to respond."

In his declaration, Vandeveld said Afghan police had made Jawad place his thumbprint on a statement written in Farsi, a language that the defendant, who is functionally illiterate, does not speak. To extract an admission, and before he was turned over to U.S. forces, the Afghans allegedly threatened to kill Jawad and his family, Vandeveld said in the declaration.

Later, Jawad also made a statement to U.S. interrogators, which was recorded, Vandeveld said. But despite an extensive search, Vandeveld said, he was not able to obtain the videotape.

A military judge last year threw out Jawad's statement to U.S. forces, saying it was tainted as a result of his treatment at the hands of the Afghans. The government the appealed decision, and the U.S. Court of Military Commission Review heard arguments on the matter yesterday. A decision is expected within 30 days.

Vandeveld and Jawad's attorneys have catalogued a pattern of abuse in the case, including an incident in June in which Jawad was said to have been "beaten, kicked and pepper-sprayed while he was on the ground with his feet and hands in shackles, for allegedly not complying with guards' instructions," according to a filing in federal court.

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