Wednesday, Dec 03, 2008
U.S. military tribunals at Guantanamo Bay are a “stain on America” that risk convicting innocent people because judicial standards are so low, a former senior prosecutor at the prison said on Tuesday.
Darrel Vandeveld, a U.S. Army lieutenant colonel who left his post at the base in Cuba earlier this year on ethical grounds, told the BBC that it was impossible to guarantee fair trials there.
“I thought that the military commissions were part of a grand tradition in accordance with the highest of American values,” he said. “Now I see them as having defiled the U.S. Constitution and I see them as a stain on America.
“There should have been a procedure in place so that we could ensure due process and fair trials for these defendants. There was no such process.”
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A Pentagon spokesman said it disputed the prosecutor’s claims, telling the BBC: “The military commission process provides full and fair trials to accused unlawful enemy combatants who are charged with a variety of war crimes.”
In September, the Guantanamo military commissions chief prosecutor Colonel Lawrence Morris said Vandeveld had asked to quit the prosecution team for personal reasons, adding that “there were no grounds for his ethical qualms.”