WASHINGTON, Sep 25 (Reuters) A US military appeals court on Monday reinstated terrorism charges against a Canadian prisoner held at the Guantanamo Bay prison camp for more than five years.
The US Court of Military Commission Review yesterday ruled that a military judge was wrong in dismissing the charges against Omar Khadr because of questions over the detainee's ''enemy combatant'' status.
Khadr, 21, is accused of killing one US soldier with a grenade and wounding another during a firefight at a suspected al Qaeda compound in Afghanistan in 2002.
A military tribunal judge, Army Col. Peter Brownback, dismissed murder and conspiracy charges against Khadr on June 4. He said the case could not proceed because Khadr had not been designated an ''unlawful enemy combatant,'' as required under the 2006 law that authorized military tribunals for foreign terrorism suspects.
Military prosecutors appealed Brownback's decision, arguing that Khadr had been declared an ''enemy combatant,'' and that was essentially the same as ''unlawful enemy combatant.'' Brownback insisted the difference between an ''enemy combatant'' and an ''unlawful enemy combatant'' is critical because international law requires other types of trial for captive considered ''lawful enemy combatants.'' The appeals court agreed with the prosecutors, concluding that Brownback erred in his ruling.
''Without any determination of lawful or unlawful status, classification as an 'enemy combatant' is sufficient to justify a detaining power's continuing detention of an individual captured in battle,'' the appeals court said in a 25-page ruling.
''The military judge's ruling he lacked authority to hear evidence on, and ultimately decide the matter of Mr. Khadr's 'unlawful enemy combatant status'... is reversed,'' the court said.
The Guantanamo prison camp, on a U.S. naval base in Cuba, holds around 375 suspects accused of involvement with al Qaeda or associated Islamist militant movements. More than five years after it opened, only one prisoner has been convicted.
Australian David Hicks admitted training with al Qaeda and pleaded guilty in March to providing material support for terrorism.
He was sent to Australia to serve a nine-month sentence. No other trial has advance beyond preliminary hearings.
REUTERS ARB AS0947