|US plans for executions at
David Teather in New York
Thursday June 12, 2003
US military officials are making preparations for the trial and possible execution of captives held in Guantanamo Bay, including the construction of a "death chamber".
A building at the detention camp in Cuba for suspected al-Qaida members is being renovated to serve as a courtroom for military tribunals, signalling that the US is moving towards bringing charges against some of the prisoners.
The prospect of possible executions will cause an uproar among human rights advocates and foreign governments, who have railed against the conditions of prisoners and the length of their detention. The 680 detainees are being held as "illegal combatants", allowing the US to sidestep the conventions that govern the holding of prisoners of war.
Westminster yesterday again sharply criticised the "anomalous situation" of the detainees, who include nine British citizens.
A spokesman for the Guantanamo prisoner task force said the preparations were "just a matter of prudent planning".
Officials would not say how executions of the prisoners, many of which were swept up during the war in Afghanistan, might be carried out.
The Foreign Office minister Mike O'Brien said representations continued to be made on behalf of the British citizens held. "We have made it clear that this matter has dragged on for a very long time and it's time that the US does seek to find ways of bringing these matters to a conclusion."
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