The Department of Defense announced today that Guantanamo detainee Salim Ahmed Hamdan of Yemen has been assigned a military defense counsel. Although he has not been charged, Hamdan is one of six detainees President Bush determined to be subject to his military order of November 13, 2001. Military commission rules require that a detailed defense counsel be available to an accused sufficiently in advance of trial to prepare a defense.
Navy Lt. Cmdr. Charles Swift was detailed to represent Hamdan by the acting Chief Defense Counsel, Air Force Col. William Gunn. Swift intends to meet with Hamdan in the near future.
The appointing authority has not made the decision to approve charges and refer Hamdan’s case to trial. Since no charges have been approved, no trial date has been set. Hamdan is presumed innocent of any criminal charges until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt at a military commission.
Military commission procedures include: the presumption of innocence; a requirement for proof of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt; representation by a military defense counsel free of charge with the option to retain a civilian defense counsel at no expense to the U.S. government; an opportunity to present evidence and call witnesses; and a prohibition against drawing an adverse inference from remaining silent. Military commissions have historically been used to try violations of the law of armed conflict and related offenses.