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Homeland Security

U.S. Department of Defense
Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs)
News Release

  No. 0083-07
IMMEDIATE RELEASE January 31, 2008

Military Commission Charges Referred

The Defense Department has announced that charges were referred to a military commission in the case of Mohammed Jawad by the Convening Authority, Office of Military Commissions, Susan J. Crawford.

The referral included one charge with three specifications of attempted murder in violation of the law of war and one charge with three specifications of intentionally causing serious bodily injury with three specifications against Jawad, a non-capital case.

It is alleged that the accused attempted to commit murder and cause serious bodily injury on or about Dec. 17, 2002, by throwing a hand grenade into the passenger compartment of a vehicle transporting U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Michael Lyons, U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Christopher Martin and their interpreter, Afghani citizen Assadullah Khan Omerk, with the intent to kill them.

In accordance with the Military Commissions Act of 2006 and the Manual for Military Commissions, Jawad will be brought before the military trial judge for arraignment within 30 days of the service of charges. Within 120 days of the referred charges being served upon the accused, the military trial judge will assemble the military commission. Assembly is the procedural step that usually occurs when all parties, including the members, are present and sworn, and the judge announces on the record that the commission is now assembled. The military judge will contact attorneys in the case to set an initial trial schedule.

Brig. Gen. Thomas Hartmann, legal advisor to the convening authority, has stated that these war crime proceedings will continue to move forward in open trials and with more due process than any alleged war criminal has historically received. Military Commission procedures include the presumption of innocence; a burden of proof on the government to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt; the right to remain silent; the right to present evidence and a prohibition from drawing any adverse inference if an accused does not testify or present any evidence; and representation by a military defense counsel free of charge with the option to retain civilian counsel at no expense to the U.S. government.

The referred charges are only allegations that the accused has committed a war crime under the Military Commissions Act. Jawad is presumed innocent of any criminal charges unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt at a military commission.

Of the 275 detainees at Guantanamo, approximately 80 are expected to face trial by military commission.

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