Case Coverage: Military Commissions

Al-Darbi Arraignment Hearing #3: About The Deal

By Wells Bennett
Thursday, February 20, 2014, 11:34 AM

Life is the maximum possible penalty for the offenses charged, but Al-Darbi has entered into a pre-trial agreement---which the court now reviews with prosecution, defense, and accused.  Again, we’ll excise a great deal of detail here, and summarize only the gist.

The military judge naturally touches on stuff that Al-Darbi is giving up in the deal---among other things, almost all of his rights to appeal, and any effort to seek testimony, during sentencing, from any Guantanamo detainee.  Under the agreement, Al-Darbi further pledges to have his lawyers dismiss any actions or motions relevant to his capture and detention; Al-Darbi tells the military judge that he agrees with these provisions.  Ditto features that stand to benefit Al-Darbi, but are conditioned on his compliance with the agreement’s terms; and ditto ones that acknowledge certain limits on the Convening Authority’s power to order Al-Darbi’s release, after completion of his sentence.

Under the deal, a sentencing hearing is expected in three years and six months.  Al-Darbi signs off on this, too.  (During this interval, presumably, Al-Darbi will furnish whatever cooperation prosecutors will require, in order for the accused to receive a reduced sentence; betting money is on Al-Darbi testifiyng against Al-Nashiri.)

After extensive colloquy, Judge Allred finds that Al-Darbi knowingly and intelligently entered into his plea, and waived his rights accordingly.  The pleas are thus provident, and accepted by the court.  Judge Allred finds the accused guilty.

That leaves litigation, as appropriate, regarding the still far-off-in-the-future sentencing.  The court says either party or both can seek a litigation schedule, come time----though the military judge says that sentencing proceedings might well be conducted without Al-Darbi present.

The case stands in recess.