Gitmo Detainee may be Sent Home
MIAMI — The young Guantanamo captive accused of throwing a grenade that maimed two American Soldiers has been moved to a section of the detention center reserved for detainees ready for release, and his lawyers said Tuesday that the Afghan government is ready to dispatch a plane to Cuba to pick him up.
Mohammed Jawad’s attorneys asked U.S. District Judge Ellen Segal Huvelle to order the U.S. government to send him home to Afghanistan. Huvelle scheduled a hearing for Thursday.
Jawad has been held at Guantanamo for seven years. He originally was accused of the grenade attack and was to stand trial before a military commission, but both military and civilian judges have banned virtually all the Pentagon prosecutor’s evidence, saying it was the result of torture.
Last Friday, the Justice Department told Huvelle it did not have enough evidence to prosecute him as a war criminal. On Monday, his lawyers asked that the formal military commission charges against him be dismissed.
“The government of Afghanistan has made it clear that it is prepared to receive Mr. Jawad immediately and unconditionally,” the young man’s attorneys wrote in their filing.
As proof, the filing said, an unnamed “high-ranking Afghan official” told U.S. military defense lawyers: “If I have to pay for the plane out of my own pocket I will. That boy doesn’t need to stay at Guantanamo one day longer.”
Huvelle, who has handled a series of prison camp habeas corpus petitions, declared the Jawad case “an outrage” and “in a shambles” during a July 16 hearing.
“Let him out. Send him back to Afghanistan,” she said.
On Friday, the U.S. government withdrew its designation of Jawad as a wartime prisoner and was deciding whether to charge him in civilian court. He was captured after someone threw a grenade into a U.S. vehicle passing through a Kabul bazaar in December 2002, wounding three.
His age is in dispute. His lawyers say he was 12 at the time. But the Pentagon, after conducting bone scans on the boy at Guantanamo, concluded he was about 17 when the incident occurred.
As a sign of his new status, Jawad was moved to Camp Iguana over the weekend, a pre-release holding site, said Air Force Reserve Maj. David Frakt, Jawad’s Pentagon defense lawyer.
The detention center established Camp Iguana last year to house captives no longer classified as “enemy combatants.” There, detainees get greater privileges, including more phone calls, a prayer room and around-the-clock pingpong. Guards watch over a half-dozen wooden huts, surrounded by barbed wire, on the edge of the Caribbean.
“He’s adjusting to his new environment, learning to play Wii the home video game and getting caught up on Afghan cricket and soccer scores,” said Frakt.